Home Alone

November 8, 2010

After sitting at home – jobless – for two long years, weekends altogether lost their charm. Weekdays were when I got some time to breathe, to manage the housework and also carve out some time for myself, when the kids were in school or asleep. Weekends were an endless round of housework, family-management, and inane conversations.

When I went back to work, I gained a new appreciation for weekends. They were an opportunity to spend unhurried, non-deadline-driven time with the husband and kids. At least, notionally they were. In practice, of course, weekends were still rushed and deadline-driven, as we frenetically tried to catch up on a whole week of missed housework and equally frenetically tried to catch some rest and relaxation in between chores. The rest and relaxation activities themselves ultimately turned into chores with their own set of deadlines. For instance, “To get seven hours of sleep, I have got to get to bed in the next half hour.” “To watch TV after the kids sleep at 9, I have to get through all the kitchen work by… sigh… a few hours ago.”

And so on…

The sad reality is that two day weekends are just not enough. Seven day weekends are just too much. Three day weekends are good, but from the new perspective of a working-fulltime-away-from-home mom, four day weekends are unimaginably better.

This weekend was great. First, Thursday was a holiday for Amit and the kids, but not for me. It was definitely a bit of a drag leaving for office with three pairs of eyes (and three voices) asking me not to go. But it was great getting home that evening to a well rested, relaxed, happy family enthusiastic to go out for dinner. It was even better knowing that all the housework had been taken in hand by one’s better half and food was cooked, dishes washed, laundry put out to dry, kids bathed and generally taken care of… wow. I could get used to this!

Friday was Diwali. It was probably my most disorganized Diwali ever. At 1.00 pm, we were still attempting to leave home with a long and critical list of things to buy: fire crackers, diyas, sweets. We got the fire crackers easily enough (60% discount, as usual), but the collections of diyas near home were a sorry looking bunch, and the only sweets still available looked uninspiring. I picked up a few for the cook, then went to the grocery store for milk. After all, rice kheer is one of the few Indian sweets I do passably well.

After a late lunch of chicken stew and roti (at which Tara ate 5 rotis and Mrini 6!; leaving only 4 for Amit and none for me!), we spent the afternoon hunting for diyas. This was a sort of treasure-hunt-cum-spring-cleaning exercise. The thing is, when we moved into this place in January, we dumped a lot of unopened/generally-expected-to-be-useless cartons of stuff into the puja room, which we’d designated as a store room right from the start. Consequently, our puja room was piled high with heavy boxes of unspecified content. We knew we’d have to tackle it some day, but we hadn’t planned on doing it on Diwali day. But it was 3.30 and we still didn’t have a single diya at hand, so our options were to either tackle the puja room in the hope of unearthing last year’s diyas; or to drive out looking for diyas.

An hour later, the dining room floor and every available horizontal surface was strewn with long-forgotten bits of useless items. There were hundreds of trinkets, knick-knacks, showpieces and other such trivia that we didn’t have any place to keep. And there were thousands (or so it seemed!) of much-loved CDs and tapes. Sigh. With heavy hearts, we sorted out what we couldn’t bear to be parted with and put all the rest of the stuff into one big carton for “disposal”. By about 5.30, we’d managed to stuff everything back into the puja room quite neatly, only two boxes high in most places. Yes, it included the stuff for “disposal” as well – what could we do with it? Expecting the garbage collectors to take it away was like expecting Mrini and Tara to stop talking for five minutes at a stretch. It just wouldn’t be done.

But all our exertions had yielded rich dividends. Not only had we found the diyas, clean, unbroken, usable, with most of the wicks intact, but we’d also found a small collection of soap bubbles to keep the kids entertained for a while. And… we’d found a small hoard of firecrackers left over from last year! (I told you there was an element of treasure-hunt about it.)

Exhausted, we took a short break to admire our plunder. At 6, we started to think about the evening ahead, but it was almost 7 by the time we were all dressed in our newest clothes and doing the diyas. The diyas were a flop anyway, because there was just enough of a breeze to quickly blow them all out. So we turned our attention to the firecrackers. We had ten flowerpots and chakras and 25 sparklers. The flowerpots turned out to have only a 60% success rate (60% discount too, remember?), which was a bit of a disappointment. But we also had two large flowerpots and a few chakras from last year’s hoard, as well as an armload of sparklers. We tried last year’s flowerpots and they turned out to be just brilliant. Who ever said that fireworks can’t be stored because they go soggy?

Saturday was a fairly typical Saturday until S&S came over in the evening and we had a “barbie-cute” party (as Tara calls it). But that’s another story.

Sunday was great. We all got up at 5 and went for tennis. Got back home around 8, had a quick breakfast and went out for a birthday party. It rained practically all day, so the kids curled up under their blanket after lunch and slept straight through till 7! I wish I could have done the same thing, but I tried my best to keep my eyes open and read my archaeology text books. I do enjoy the subject, but it’s amazing how quickly a text book of any sort can put one to sleep! After the kids had had dinner and gone back to bed at 9, I stayed up for another hour before giving in and crawling under two layers of blankets myself.

And now it’s Monday. Back to school. Back to work. Back to all the usual hurry and stress.

For Amit and the kids, that is. Not for me! My office, for whatever reason, has given us Monday off. So, I get to wave goodbye to the rest of the family and then luxuriate in one whole day of solitary bliss. 7.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. is eleven solid hours – to study, sleep, watch TV, read, catch up on errands, and blog – without interruption.

Home alone: a perfect way to end a busy four-day weekend.

PS: When I woke up the kids this morning, I told them that Amit would be driving them to school. They were still curled up snugly in bed, still pretending to be asleep when this exchange took place.

Tara: Why?

Me: I have a holiday today.

Tara: Aiyyyoooo! How sad!


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