Why Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy means so much…

…To me, and to women in general. Tell me one of you out there who’s remained unaffected by the news, not imagined at least once what it would be like to be in her shoes, to take a conscious call to get your breasts removed? It would still make news if it were any other body part, if it were Angelina Jolie, but would it affect the women so much if it were not her breasts? I’m not so sure.

Considering how common breast cancer has become in the recent years, we all probably have a family member and friend’s mother or friend who’s dealt with it at some point in their lives, and come out of it, without a boob. My mother-in-law fears the C word, because her mum died of breast cancer when MIL was still a young girl. I have a relative, who fought and survived breast cancer, she has a severely swollen arm as testimony to that, a result of the chemotherapy she underwent years ago, I am told. When I was much younger, we’d heard in hushed tones about how this Aunty didn’t have a breast, she’d lost it to breast cancer, and that she wore some sort of a special bra with a faux boob. And I remember at that time thinking how terrible that must be, to not have a part of your body. I know better now, I understand that a life is far more precious than a breast, any body part you could lose.

But I’m still trying to process how much courage it must take to voluntarily get your breasts removed, (honestly, I had never heard of preventive mastectomy before this) not because they are killing you, but because there’s a chance they could kill you. Even if you can get them replaced by two silicone substitutes. I don’t think it’s about money, it’s not that she can afford to get a double mastectomy and then silicone implants, as some people would make this out to be. Agreed, everyone’s not as rich as Jolie, but a lot of people are still rich enough to get those procedures done. Would you still opt for it? Or take the risk of letting a faulty gene in your system play out its own story, which may or may not cause cancer, as was the case with the Hollywood actress?

How much braver then for a woman to come out  in the open, and say, yes, they’re not real anymore. And think about it, does it affect the way you view Angelina Jolie if she’s got two fake breasts? Is she any less sexier to you now than she was before? Not to me at least. Why then should a woman’s sexuality be defined by the size and shape of her breasts.  We have to disassociate from this construction to be able to view our bodies for what they are, not for what they are perceived to be. No, our breasts were not meant to titillate, to be stared at, to be objectified for pleasure. Like any other body part, women have breasts for a purpose — to nurse babies.  Will Angelina’s double mastectomy help us all to put things in perspective?

The simple life

…Should be fairly simply to live? But as a mother, I’ve begun to increasingly realise that it’s one of the toughest things to ensure I give my toddler. There are no two ways about whether I want him to live a simple life, I just do. But whether I can teach him how to, I don’t know. I don’t know how to teach him to live without the unnecessary trappings of this day and age, when I’m hooked to so many of them.

Like the cellphone. We made it out-of-bounds for him when he was a crawler, and it was easy then, but ever since he’s got a mind of his own, it’s become difficult to explain why we’re never seen without our phones, but he mustn’t lay his hands on one AT ALL. He still doesn’t get one to play with, but once in a while he wants to watch a song video or his own baby videos on it. Or the ipad, on which I downloaded tons of baby songs and nursery rhymes, and such other, which I played for him every night while I was weaning him off,  just to distract him so he would forget he had to nurse. He loves the songs and rhymes on the ipad. I hate it. Because I don’t think gadgets are for kids. But since they make life simpler for us, I think we’re using them to complicate our kids.  I console myself by saying he still loves books, that he can sit and browse through his board and peek-a-boo books for long periods and enjoys it. Or that he doesn’t watch TV, no, not even cartoons. But still, the ipad irks.

Till two days ago, my son had not set foot in a train, had only travelled by flight. It bothered me. It happened so because I was breastfeeding him till January this year, and despite doing it for 15 months straight, I couldn’t do it in public. No, I wasn’t squeamish about nursing in public, I just didn’t know how to do it the way it was to be done in public. I preferred travelling by air, because my son’s been a poor sleeper from the start, and I could not imagine long journeys with him waking up every hour to nurse! So well, I chose to fly with him till now, when I finally made up my mind I had to get out of this we-can’t-travel-by-train syndrome, and took a Delhi-Lucknow overnight train with him, and my family.

You know, those are the little things that I’m talking about… There’s a bit of fondness for the old life that we all harbour, and that part of us wants that our children should enjoy the same pleasures that we did as kids. Except that the same pleasures are no longer there for having. There’s too much at our easy disposal now. The smallest of things that were precious to us when we were kids, would mean nothing to my son, I realise, because he had it before he could ask for it. Also, our world view has changed, and we don’t think those things are a big deal now. It would be a bigger deal trying to keep those things away from him now, saying no, you’re not allowed to switch on the AC, because we grew up in air-cooled houses. Or to say, no flights for you because flights just are a whole lot easier for my husband and me because they save us a lot of time. Yet, a part of me hankers after that old life, even for my baby… is it too much to ask for in these times?

Easter craft

Ever since I became a mum, I’ve got this crazy idea in my head that I must be more creative than usual, because, well, I have a standard to set for the li’l brat. And I could fail at a lot else, but not at creativity, for that’s so high on my list of Things To Always Do/Be. It’s also one of those qualities I hope my son will have lots of, and not ignore because he’s too man to be creative.

So, I’ve been pinning DIY projects with a vengeance on Pinterest, my favouritest go-to site for everything these days! And I got down to executing one for Easter, though I’ve never celebrated Easter except during my school years in a convent when we would buy chocolate or coconut flavoured sugar Easter eggs that tasted horrible, but looked so pretty to us kids. Last year, a friend got very colourful and slightly better testing Easter eggs from Delhi as a gift for Arjun, who was too tiny then to even get attracted to how they looked. And we got invited, for the first time, to an Easter dinner. Anything that’s not part of your ordinary life becomes sort of exotic, so it was for us.

Anyway, I digress. Here’s what I saw on several Pinterest boards:

Egg

I loved that this was just a simple craft, and so cute. So on Saturday evening, I sat down with a packet of balloons, some embroidery threads and a bit of fabric stiffener (Revive). I followed this tutorial on how to, and here’s what I ended up with:

DSC_0905

I was pretty pleased with the results. Not bad, eh? My son loved these little Easter eggs, though I’m sure he couldn’t care less if they were eggs or balls, and carried the basket around the house for a good couple of hours, before he bored of them and turned his attention to more fun stuff!

DSC_0904

They’ll probably be flattened to putty soon enough, because I’m not trying to shield them from his curious hands — after all, I made them for him. Even then, I’ve inspired myself to try more stuff. For now, there’s the satisfaction of having spent one day less ordinary than usual.

Hit me baby one more time!

Sorry for the rather cheesy headline, all I’m trying to say is that I want to be pregnant again! I took really long the first time to get pregnant — first, there were the years we didn’t want a baby, and then the ones when we wanted one but weren’t being able to conceive. But good things come to those who wait. I had the loveliest baby in the womb. And so, my pregnancy was such a smooth ride. I loved being pampered. I loved the sleepless nights because I ended up reading so much then. I loved having something to look forward to. I loved all the happiness that surrounded me then. I loved the last days of solitude before the baby came and took over our lives with his cries and laughter. And just for those reasons I could be pregnant again.

But I don’t think I’m ready yet for another baby. No, not at all. My almost 18-month-old keeps me busy enough. And I cannot imagine just now forsaking the joy of running after him to cuddle a baby growing inside me. Forget all that, having another baby is nowhere on our plan. And The Guy says I will have to look for another man if I want to have another baby!

But that’s because he knows nothing of the joys of carrying a baby. I was wary of speaking about my pregnancy when I was carrying Arjun, for fear that I would jinx it. But now that that’s not a possibility, I can say how much I enjoyed being pregnant. I fell in love then with the little bundle that would kick and writhe inside me, making me aware of my body like I’d never felt before. And that’s one of those things that The Guy — an extremely hands-on dad and sensitive husband — will never experience. And so, he’ll never know why it is that I want to get pregnant again.

I sometimes think I’m making a dangerous wish — what if it comes true! But the heart has its reasons, which reason knows nothing of!

I am alive. Again.

Because it’s summer, and summer’s when everything comes alive, most importantly my spirit. It’s like I’ve been sleepwalking all of the year, and Spring begins to awaken me, every tiny nerve in me that tingles with restless energy — happy, restless energy. And it awakens within me this will to be happy, to go and embrace the world — the same world that’s been a pain the rest of the year.

I hate the seasonal cusp between summer and winter, when the days become shorter, and darkness descends on sunshine. But I love, in capital letters LOVE, when the season reverses, and the days become longer, and I can step out at 6, even 6.30 in the evening, to be met by the gently setting sun, still a warm orange at that hour. It calms me down at the end of a hectic day, tells me to slow down, because I still have ahead of me a long evening to unwind.

I love how green summer is. No, not a pallid, faint excuse of a green, but a bright, sharp green, that’s calling out to you. I wait for the yellow blossoms to bloom, when the red Gulmohurs fire up the leafless trees. I love how blue the sky is — the colour you get in pictures after they’ve gone through serious photoshopping.

I love how we no longer need to rush to shut out the icy cold winds that slyly find way through the smallest crack, and that we can now finally open our doors and windows to sunshine and summer breezes.

Next time, I want a summer baby. Imagine, the double joy of a baby and this season! Oh, and I must add, if there is a second time, that is.

I’m no angel. Possibly then, I’m the devil?

Sometimes I wonder if, instead of trying to sort out so many misunderstandings, we could just give in to perceptions about us, how would that be… What makes us want other people to think good about us, to like us perhaps, to definitely not think we’re bad people. Why does it hurt when someone says something unflattering about us? And why do we want to prove our goodness?

I wonder if maybe I’m just deluding myself into believing I’m a nice person. Who knows, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m wired like that, differently, and I’m trying very hard to be “nice” in ways that I wasn’t intended to be. How would you feel if you chanced upon the truth — the truth that basically, you’re a rotten person inside?

We hear all the time that people aren’t black or white, they’re grey. And for the most part, I’m of that view. But it could be that we’ve just come up with this notion to make the blackness of our souls more acceptable… That there are some among us who’re not grey, but all good or all bad. I’m thinking what if I’m one of them… And that what appears good in me is just stuff I’ve acquired through conditioning. It’s not entirely impossible.

I’m no angel, so possibly I am the devil?