Family

Brothers, Sisters & Cousins

Japji Sahib Wallpaper
Japji Sahib Wallpaper (Photo credit: Gurumustuk Singh)

As I did the Japji Sahib  today in the morning, I couldn’t help smiling inwardly at some of the funny, and loving things I have seen with my family this week. As I kept reading under a gloomy sky, I felt completely lit up inside. For the first time, I was reading the prayer without halting ( I don’t have it memorized). It struck me that I have a lot  cousins and their children in town.  At last count, 43 all together counting everyone living here. Yes! 43 which includes, kids of all ages from a 6 month old to 21 years.  That’s still only gets us to perhaps 1/2 of my family as half didn’t come. Yes, half.

To say my family is big is an understatement, but really to say that they are loved is an even bigger understatement.  I wish I could say that it was due to a special occasion such as a big birthday or wedding  that the family is here but in reality this regularly happens in my family.  My cousins have been coming to visit us for as long as we have been in California.  What’s really striking is that how much fun we have as a family. I don’t think I have laughed this much, well since, the last time they were here which was my wedding. Preeti joked that it felt like we are getting married all over again which made our 2nd anniversary even more memorable. What really warmed my heart was to see how much fun she has with my family too.

I realize now that although many have big families, what makes this more pleasurable for me is to see how close my parents were to their siblings.  It is their love for each other that has made us close to our cousins.  My mom’s 5 sisters and 4 brothers are so deeply committed to each other that it’s breathtaking to see them get together. I have only seen laughing, praying, crying together. NEVER, and I mean NEVER have I seen them fight or argue with each other.Then there is also my father’s side of 5 brothers and 1 sister where my sisters and I are the oldest cousins, and the level of respect accorded to us is truly humbling. My father is the head of the family, and his love and caring has made us care and love our cousins naturally.  I can say all my cousins make me feel truly loved, and when they do come over, it is NEVER a chore. I do admit that friends and work tend to suffer a bit since we all are so keen to be around for hours.

I assumed that was normal until I saw others who don’t speak to family members for months or years. I think the longest I have gone without speaking to my sisters has been a week. It just has never occurred to us to not resolve what’s wrong. We fight, we yell, we argue, we are mean to each other, but it has NEVER affected our relationship as brother and sister.  I see now that with time we have gotten even closer. I guess what I really mean to say is that I truly grateful for who I have in life, and I want others to have the same too.  That is my public service announcement for the day 🙂

Myself, Preeti

Preeti

I know the above song is your current favorite, but it truly expresses how I feel about you. You and I have come a long way. It’s hard to believe that ,today, we celebrate our second anniversary. I still remember our first kiss under the stars on New Years Eve outside of Suman‘s house 7 plus years ago. I knew at that moment that I would marry you. You were the first person in my life who I fell in love with unknowingly as we became friends. Our friendship was so unlikely especially the fact that we were in different social circles, and I remembered you at our family parties as the girl with pretty eyes. Sigh. Those green eyes.   I got lost in your eyes when we first kissed, and I felt I had met my soul mate. Each time you look at me with those piercing eyes. I fall a bit deeper in love with you.  I don’t know what I did right to deserve the right to look at you endlessly, but I am grateful for the chance to see those eyes open first thing in the morning.

You and I have had it rough. The ride has been bumpy, I admit, with all that we have both gone through, but I truly believe that they were intended to teach us how to better with each other.  I know that you were ready to take on world for me, and I know what a strong and amazing human being you are. The strength and belief you have in yourself motivates me to be a better person. Not many would be standing with what you have already experienced at your age. Yes, we are opposites in many ways, and we both have a lot of different interests.  Yet, somehow they have become complementary for us as we settle into each for the long ride called life.

You and I are different personalities. Yet your kindness, love for my family, and all the people in my life constantly reminds me how lucky I am to be with someone who accepts me for who I am.  There aren’t many people who I can share everything with, and there definitely aren’t many people who can put up with my stubbornness on a daily basis. You somehow you have managed to make me the person I imagined to be just by allowing me to be myself with you.

You and I are meant to be together. You and I will always get through the good and the bad times. That much I know.

2 down, and a lifetime to go. I love you, Preeti Sabarwal.

 

Myself

Below Average

Flag of the Sikh Empire, french flag overlaid ...
Flag of the Sikh Empire, french flag overlaid with waheguru written in punjabi across the front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cue Simran from the Tuhi Tuhi app.  I am absolutely in love with those words.  They bring me peace. Well at least on most days.   “You have scored below average on some key areas of your memory and reason” the doctor explained calmly over the phone to me yesterday.  I still hear echoes of it. Me?  Below average? It can’t be. Over and over. Below average in 3 out of 5 main areas of memory.  He went on for 15 minutes, but I couldn’t tell you what he said. I could blame that my short-term memory which has declined as per the doctor, but it’s more likely that I felt defeated in that moment. 3 months of meditation, BK Shivani, Babel.com, Lumosity.com, reading  and exercise seem to be all for nothing, I could explain that my reason has declined as per the doctor, or that I have a hard time visualizing places, things and events making it hard for  me to remember directions or recent events or people. I could just believe  I am below average.  Keeps echoing. Almost at pace of the simran in the background…  Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale out.

My stroke and brain surgery had taken a part of me. I am angry. I am frustrated. I feel alone.  I cannot be below average. That just is not in my vocabulary.  Fuck you stroke. Fuck you brain surgery. YOU. WILL. NOT. TAKE ME. I will not allow you take anything of mine anymore. You won the first and second round, that’s all. Last one is mine, or I am going down swinging. You will not take me dignity. My creativity. My reasoning. My love. My family. My friends. My reasoning. My words.

Tuhi Tuhi.  Waheguru.  I have faith. I am the creator of my thoughts, feelings and actions. They make my destiny. Anger is poison. Anger destroys. Relationships, will, love.  I know that. I will not bow down to negativity. I will not let anything or anyone take me from me.  I am not below average.  I am me.

The doctor said to get retested in January. I am going to, and I will keep at it until I get back who I was. Breath out the anger, hate, frustration and breath in the calm. Waheguru.

Family, Myself

MOM

Mom. I just don’t have the words to describe what you mean to me. That’s what I wrote in my scrawl on your birthday card, but here I am going to try. I was going to do a status update on Facebook, but something about that just did not feel complete. I don’t tell you enough I love you. I don’t tell you that you are my friend. I don’t tell you that your opinion means the world to me. I don’t tell you that your love of books is the one bond that makes me feel we are in an exclusive book club. I don’t tell you that my moral center came from you.

So much of me is you that I wonder what I did right to be your son. You have supported (and financed) most of my dreams, and not once complained. I love that you text, and Facebook. I love that you make lunch almost everyday with the expectation that we will come, and call if we don’t come for a few days. Your love for all is abundant, yet you make me feel like the favorite (yes, I know I am).  There is not much you don’t know about me, and even then you have accepted me. I have failed numerous times, but not once have you made me like a failure.

I know I am quiet most of the time around you, but  I hope you know that you are in my life and heart all the time. I already know that these words are not enough, but you know what, they are a start. You are one of my guides, and I hope that I become like you. Kind, spiritual, loving, thoughtful, intelligent, honest, and accepting. The list has just begun, but really I just wanted you to know that I love you and I am sorry for the late post. Even though this is just a sliver of  what I feel for you, it seemed to be right that I shared them.   I wanted the words to be just right, and even if they are not, I hope you see how much you mean to me.  Love you, Mom.

Family, Myself

Stylus

Tomorrow is Tejpal’s 3rd death anniversary. He has been on my mind for a few weeks now.  In a clinical sense, he is my brother in law‘s oldest brother, but in my life he has been a mentor, an older brother, and someone who really got my need to be writing and get things done creatively. I still cannot forget when he stayed up night after night designing my high school magazine Stylus which ended winning us one of the most prestigious awards for high school magazines.  I still smile at the many nights we would sit together and we would bounce ideas back and forth. He read most that I wrote till I graduated from law school.  He ended up being one of the few people in my life who was intimately involved in my writing.  Most times I write, I cannot help feeling his shadow across my thoughts, and I miss him terribly. All of this sounds so selfish in a way because he was more than just a mentor. He was a great father and brother. If there was anyone I knew close to perfection in compassion and care, I wouldn’t hesitate to say his name.

Dearest Tejpal.  I’d like to think that he is at peace, and as hard his sudden departure from this world was, he was genuinely the kindest, most generous human being I had met in my life.  Sure, I still saw him monthly after college and law school, but what never changed was how warm he made me feel. I am sure he probably wondered where I disappeared to and perhaps my only regret is that I never really got a chance to tell him how much he meant to me. I am sure he knows it, and I liked to think that he knew how much he influenced me.  So much of me wishes that I was deeper and better at expressing him.  I feel him by my side just smiling with his gentle hand on my back.  So even though the words will never be adequate, I grasp this stylus tightly and  write for the one of the few who inspired me.

Myself

Transitions

Today, my niece turned 18.  She is the second to do so.  I also have a 21-year-old niece.  There is nothing like seeing others grow up to realize that you no longer can pretend to be young.  It’s really quite amazing to see someone grow up into an adult right in front of your eyes.  It’s also a surreal week as last week I witnessed the burial of a dear friends father.  Life. Death. Growth. That’s what we are surrounded by, yet we constantly get caught up in the mundane. We do not realize how lucky we are to have the ones we have in our lives.  We ignore that we are all beautiful souls who are just here temporarily and perhaps instead of really enjoying each others presence, we let the worry of money, work and conflict drive each day.

I realize that I am being preachy so perhaps I need to switch from We to I.  This is my daily journey. Each morning, I have been waking up and really trying to spend some time with myself. It’s as if I have become a stranger to myself. So many random thoughts swirling around, and I see that a majority of them are negative.  I see that I am creating so much negative energy, and so now I try to refocus. It has led me to know how lucky I am to have met my friend’s father one last time before he passed.  To be touched by the earth in my hands as I bid him farewell on his new journey, and to be blessed to have known him and his daughter.  I also could not be more proud of my friend’s husband, a new father and a relatively new son-in-law, who took care of the family as his own. It was truly inspiring to see him be there for them.

I am surrounded by love, pain, grief, anger, but most importantly inspiration. If I could just allow myself to see life as what it really is, I would be a better person for it. It is a continuous teacher, lover, and philosopher.  So today as I wish my niece a beautiful birthday, I also wish my dear friend and her family a beautiful day in memory of their luck in having uncle in their lives. I know I feel blessed with the people in my life.