Friday, October 09, 2015

Not Cut Out For Motherhood

I've moved in and life has quickly become terribly complicated. Firstly, I need a CD tower. Secondly, I really, really need a washing machine. Thirdly, I seem to have acquired four dogs and two kittens. Three of the dogs were mine to begin with (though not staying with me, except for Sylvie and later, Sylvie and Elliott). The two kittens, well, one fell down my air well and starved for two days. The other was deposited at my doorstep really emaciated and hissing (there were dogs on either side) madly, her eyes tearing, so scared I had to throw a towel over her to take her in, feed her, and stroke her to calm her down.

And then, there's the extra dog. I was taking Elliott and Sylvie for their morning walk last Friday when I saw this dog bobbing up and down along their path. So I crossed the road...because I didn't want Sylvie to pick a fight. (She does that) And I noticed that the dog was tied to some planks. There was no evidence of food or water around. It was a hot hazy day. When I drove by later on my way to work I noticed the dog was still there. Still tied to the planks. Trying to make itself comfortable on the grass the planks were on. Poor little thing.

I thought to walk away and ignore it. But I burst into tears on my way to work thinking of the poor forlorn little thing. What if nobody rescued it. What if it was just left there, or worse, picked up by the city council and disposed of? What had that dog done to deserve such treatment?

I got to work and texted and Facebooked some people for help. Perhaps unsurprisingly there was no help forthcoming.

The tears kept coming. I could feel my heart breaking. Poor little doggie. I left and went to pick her up. She was still there, still tied to the heavy planks which had been put there for some construction project or other. I persuaded her quite easily to jump into my car and took her straight to the vet. She kept making that bobbing movements as if she couldn't help it. The vet said she had a neurological disorder, probably brought about by distemper.

So, whoever had owned her before had not bothered to give her her shots, or deal with the massive tick infestation or even have her nails cut. She was a sorry little thing.

I brought her home and tried to feed her but she was too terrified to eat unless I was right there in front of her, watching her and coaxing. I had to kick the other dogs down - distemper, ticks, not things I want them to get. I sprayed Frontline on her twice...(I would bathe her in two days) and tried to be kind. She ran if she saw me wielding a broom or a mop. She threw up in one of the rooms on the first day. She learned quickly that if she couldn't hold it in, the air well was the place to go.

She wants to be friends with the other dogs but they only want to kill her. The kittens, well, she is gentler with the kittens than the other dogs...but maybe, a little too interested in them. They are bolder with her around, than with the other dogs.

So that is why my life has become complicated. Oh wait, that's not all. Why I have Bruno is Dadda collapsed over the weekend, purging and throwing up violently while I was there to do my laundry. We took him to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning  and he was too weak to stay by himself. Julie came and carted him off to her place. Which meant that Bruno was left alone.

I took him...and in the short time he has been here, he has already destroyed one side of the auto gate (I keep him tied most of the time now). So now, all the dogs (except for Elliott whom I am going to return to my father) are up for adoption. They have tied up my life - mornings are about walking them and cooking their food, feeding the kittens.

Evenings, I rush back from work to do the same. Kittiens just need feeding and having their kitty litter cleaned fairly frequently and as such are more independent. But if someone wanted to adopt both at a go, I wouldn't say no.

I am really not cut out to be a mother.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Barbara Pym

When I went to Fraser's Hill that second time I started reading a book that someone had left behind. It was a book by Barbara Pym. I didn't get very far because I had to leave (and return the book to the Smokehouse's library) but I remember loving it, loving the way she wrote and the English countryside she wrote about...and always wanting to go back to reading it. Or at least, a book by her.

Well I suddenly remembered about it when I was at Silverfish and I ordered some books by her. Well, two to be exact. And the first one arrived and my colleague, who happened to be in Silverfish, picked it up for me.

The book I got was a collection. I have read the first two stories - Civil to Strangers (it's simply exquisite, there is no other word to describe it) and Gervase and Flora. Gervase, surprisingly, is Henry Harvey, the man she loved (maybe all her life) who wrote letters to her but didn't return her feelings.

She wrote doggedly for years, even when publishers decided that she had gone out of fashion (publishers are stupid sometimes, and will do that) and suddenly in 1977, she was "rediscovered", only three years before she died. Then, people dug up her books, her manuscripts, her letters and even her diaries and published everything. It seemed the public could not get enough of her. So much for "out of fashion".

I still haven't moved properly. My room (in this house, my father's house) is a tip with everything scattered everywhere. I find when I come here, I have not the energy to move. I have set up a dining table with two chairs. Two more chairs to go. Maybe I'll do it this evening.

I feel very unsettled, but that's my fault. My phone has run out of battery, but I don't care about that.

I made chicken vindaloo and asparagus belacan for lunch. The asparagus won't keep (it is hugely popular and there was too little of it) but the chicken will, For a bit, anyway.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

I Want To Go Home

Do we ever really let go of the ones we love? Today is a day for memories. I am being assailed. I think I have got over them, the ones I loved, the ones I lost, but something rises up to remind me and the pain is sharp and deep.

Even if it was right for them to go and there is no way I would want them back in the condition they were in.

Even then, I miss them.

Because I am no longer sure I believe in an Afterlife. I am no longer sure that is not some comforting fairy tale we tell ourselves so we feel less desolate, less overtaken by loss.

Mum, where are you now?

Arnold, where are you now?

Do you know I love you? Do you know how much I still miss you? Do you know that I am still lost and I haven't been able to find my way? Do you know most days I am tired and disorganised and I wish so much, so much, that I could just go home and lay my head on a  comfortable pillow and feel safe, secure and that all was right in the world?

When do we lose our certainties?

I am glad neither of you are still alive and suffering. But I am not so sure about me. Is there something else I am supposed to do? I can't think what.

I really can't.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What If It Is?

I find pink puke all over the toilet bowl. Dadda ate old Onam fare and upchucked. He doesn't tell me anything about it though. And I don't mention it. He doesn't bother to put the dog's food to cook as he normally does. So I do it. The dogs are fed properly. Not the paltry amounts that he thinks are enough for them despite the fact that he does not pay for their food.

It is a strange situation. He is getting deliberately crueller to them. Tells me to give them away, put them to sleep. I think he wants me out. And in the next breath, he demonstrates some form of frailty. This push-pull thing I have lived with my whole life. Co-dependent is how someone characterised the whole relationship. And I know, once I have left, I will not be coming back. For any reason.

Sick? In hospital? Dying?

Too bad. Why is that supposed to be my problem?

Yes, I'm mad.

But mostly at myself for being so sluggish and staying for this long. I should have moved out by now. Instead, here I am on the sofa, bout the only thing I can say I achieved for today is to feed and walk the dogs. My phone battery is almost dead as the charger is in the office. I was supposed to go get that early this morning. Instead, I slept till noon.

The other thing I finishing Joan Didion's Blue Nights. Which I loved. I love how she repeats certain words and phrases throughout the book. You can tell she was crying when she wrote it. This incredibly painful memoir about the death of her only child. 20 months after the death of her husband.

There was no warning for one. And 20 months of warning for the other.

But death, that great emptiness, that great bourne from which there is no return, that great silence, that great nothingness beyond....we tell ourselves fairy stories to believe it is not the end.

But what if it is?

The Yellow Sea Rises Up And Swallows Everyone In Its Wake

I should tell you how my first Bersih went. But I just don't feel like it. My mind is a confused tangle of impressions. Too many things at the same time. I would like to pause and separate the strands. I know something momentous has happened, is in fact, happening, and things will play out the way they are supposed to be played out.

You can't avoid consequences forever.

But perhaps, not surprisingly, what I think about most these days, are the little kittens who have now been fostered, my dogs who are being increasingly abused in this house (I have to rescue them...I cannot allow this). The three of them are spread out in various attitudes in the hall. Bruno comes over and whimpers...he lies on my foot for a while and then goes back and curls up. I have switched on the aircon because although it rained quite heavily's now so hot that I can smell myself. Though it's way past midnight, I will have a cold shower and scrub myself. I hate feeling this hot.

I can't sleep. Maybe it's because we slept in late today. Maybe it's because my mind is buzzing...but I can read Joan Didion's Blue Nights and allow myself to drift off.

Sylvie has walked over...she is itching...another bath so soon?

The air is buzzing with mosquitoes. It makes things quite uncomfortable. I keep squishing them (most are bloody which means I have been bitten) and they keep coming back.

It's exactly 2.22am. Maybe I should sign off now and try to get some sleep. Maybe I'll tell you about my experiences tomorrow.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

When 4 is 1

It's half past two in the morning and I am sitting at my place waiting for my two compatriots. We are going for the Bersih first ever. I think I am adequately prepared. It's funny how people talk so matter-of-factly about needing to have salt on hand for the tear gas. You will choke, so you need to put some in your mouth and after a while it will clear. But not on the first or second teargassing...that you will still be able to take. More like, the third time.

I got home at midnight and woke Dadda up to tell him I was going for Bersih. He was understandably upset and tried to dissuade me, though not too hard. But then, when I was actually leaving, he woke up and staggered out in his sarong, to lock the gate and wave goodbye. I had Sylvie and Bruno with me in the house.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go. The thing that pushed me over the edge was the circular making it an offence for anyone to wear yellow or anything with Bersih 4 on it. Really? Seriously? You're going to bully us to this extent?

The worm turned.

Mostly I had wanted to enjoy my weekend, relax and do nothing or maybe, move some of my stuff out of the house. More books. Also hang with the dogs. My colleague Jacqui who had agreed to babysit the kittens until Tuesday has now decided to take them on until they get adopted. She has her sister and her sister's husband staying with her so they can take care of the kits while she is at work. Prayer answered. Problem solved.

And today (meaning yesterday) was Onam. The Malayalee harvest festival. When my grandmother was alive she would make something special for it. Apparently it is a big deal in Kerala. Over here, not so much, although celebration during this time, is growing. I have been fighting with Dadda and I thought I would do something nice for him. Nice, but not nice enough.

I used the Go Get service for the first time, and put up a job to get someone to go to a restaurant serving Kerala cuisine in Aman Suria and pick up two thali meals and deliver it to his house. Now ideally, I should have gone home to share the meal with him. It is supposed to be a celebration, after all. Instead I stayed and had McDonald's with my colleagues. But feeling guilty, I called Chubs and asked him to go over instead. I should have called earlier. He was out having dinner...if I had caught him in time, he could have gone and shared the Onam meal with Dadda. Instead, he just had some payasam.

Dadda saved some payasam for me and insisted I eat it...I ate a little and then left it on the table to go bathe. When I came back, I found it had been licked clean. Haha, Bruno and Sylvie were in the house after all, I should have realised.

I feel so tired now. What I most want to do is sleep.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Miles To Go Before I Sleep

A colleague is babysitting the kittens for me over this long weekend. I have already delivered the three mewling little things to her. She's really good at the newborns. She has already installed them in a fetching basket and taken this picture which she put on Facebook. So much better than any I have taken so far:

Which means I'm off the hook for the moment and I can actually concentrate on getting some work done. But I miss them so.I keep hearing them cry but it's only in my mind. For the most part they are good little kittens. They only make noise when they have soiled themselves or when they need to be fed. Also, when they want a cuddle. What baby doesn't?

I asked for a miracle. I love the kitties already but I'm tired and there is this constant tension at home where everyone - from Dadda to the doggies, hates them. Dadda actually let Sylvie in today and luckily my door was locked. She threw herself against the door scratching it and whimpering, and I waited for Dadda to send her out. He has punished her before for much less. But no, he didn't. And the blows became more urgent.

So I opened the door and chased her out.

When I asked him why he had let her in, he said, "if she wants to eat them, so what? Let her."

I was glad I was leaving and taking the kitties with me, glad that my kind colleague had offered to babysit them. They are so young and fragile and sweet; they had already been abandoned once by cruel, heartless people. They didn't need anymore of that. And I certainly didn't either.

But after delivering them to her...I feel listless. There is a whole bunch of work I am supposed to do, things I let slide...but I can't seem to be getting my head around it. My thoughts are scattered, scattered. I want to cuddle them, feel their soft warmth against me, purring like quiet motors. (when they're not screaming of course, but I even think the screaming is cute, as long as it is not in my office, where it disturbs the other writers, and gets me stern warnings from my boss).

I feel so very sad now. And it's late. I have stuff to do, stuff to do...

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(Robert Frost)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kitten tales

You start a day with one expectation and then something happens...I found three tiny kittens dumped by the side of a monsoon drain. They were in a box, sort of striped greyish, about two weeks old. Read that again! Two weeks old. Which means, not even old enough to be separated from their mother. They need to be fed with a dropper. They need to have their asses and peeing equipment rubbed with a wet wipe after feeding to stimulate the pee and poo. They're babies. And just like babies, you have to sleep lightly at night so as not to miss their hungry mews should they wake up.

I brought them in to the office today. Yesterday, I was too busy getting their feeding equipment and taking them to the vet, etc.

They were pretty well-behaved. After their last feed at night, they didn't wake up until after my alarm went off. That's about six hours. When they woke up I first gave them some glucose and water (the vet suggested that I alternate the milk with glucose and water). They didn't like that much. It didn't fill them and they still had to be given milk after as a supplement.

Anyway my cat loving colleagues crowded around me to see and touch and carry the kittens. Many wanted to adopt them but could not. But could not do the two-hour feeding/pooping/peeing thingy. The vet, Dr Prem, told me that only a hardcore cat lover would be willing. We have those here. Except that they have full-time jobs. So how?

One of my colleagues offered to take them on Thursday night and bring them back on Tuesday morning. That will be a BIG help.

What can I say?

People at The Edge are kind. And they love animals.