365 Days of Writing: Day 21 – Reading Americanah and Recognizing My Love and Myself

Have you guys read books by the amazing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? She’s a brilliant writer, able to bring the world of Nigeria and the Nigerian diaspora to life. Plus she’s a feminist writer, and that’s awesome 🙂

I first came to know about her through a meme that was floating around Facebook. I saw the meme and recognised a kindred spirit.

Behold the awesomeness!

How could I not want to know all about this person??

Next thing I knew, I was watching a TEDTalk by her –

And then I was buying as many books as I could find that she’d written. And reading them, of course. (I’m halfway through my collection now)

She has an uncanny way of writing complex, dynamic characters – not necessarily likeable, but not truly unlikeable; neither pure nor fully corrupt; vulnerable and fallible. In other words, her characters are very relatably human. Just like you and me. So their trials and tribulations, their desires and aversions feel like my very own.

I felt that resonance especially with Ifemelu, the protagonist in Americanah. I felt that she was speaking with my voice at times in the narrative and it was quite unnerving to say the least. But there was one particular point in the story, very early on that I felt akin to her. It was when she was describing how she felt around Obinze –

” She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.”

This was revelatory.

I recall the very moment I was reading this – I was lying in bed next to my SO, and this was just a few months into our relationship; I’d just moved in a short while ago. It was at this moment that I realised that this was the relationship I wanted for the rest of my life. Because that’s how I felt about myself while I was with him – like my skin was my right size. He never made me feel like I had to be different, to change myself. I liked myself more when I was with him, and I with him I felt like I was becoming a better version of myself.

And now, more than a year later I still feel the same way; about him, about myself and about us. Being with him makes me feel at peace. It quietens my inner demons and lets my better judgement prevail.

What about you? Have you ever read a quote from a book that was revelatory about your life in that moment?

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365 Days of Writing: Day 17 – Relationship Milestones – Shopping Together

I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE shopping with my SO. I absolutely love it! It doesn’t matter what we’re shopping for – groceries, clothing, stuff for our dogs, gardening tools – you name it, we love doing it together. Somehow, we manage to make a routine activity fun when we’re together. We realised our “shopping compatibility” early on in our relationship – the first time we went grocery shopping actually.

This has not escaped the notice of those close to us. His sister was very amused when she stayed over with us last year. She followed us to Tesco for some grocery shopping and witnessed first-hand our special form of teasing. She was also quite impressed at our ability to discuss the merits of purchasing a sack of rice – he wanted to get it because it was on sale; I didn’t want to because we already had an unopened bag of rice at home. We eventually decided to pass on the rice since it didn’t really make sense to buy it – things are always on sale in Tesco anyway, and it just wasn’t necessary to buy the rice at that point. So, anyway,we stood there discussing it for close to 15 minutes while she was waiting for us to make a decision. And she realised that it was quite a routine thing for us because we proceeded to do just that for several other items. In the end, it took us about one-and-a-half hours to finish the shopping, precisely because of that.

Apparently, that’s not normal behaviour.

My mum said so when she was subject to the same treatment when she stayed over with us. She was also quite amused at us.

It however is absolutely normal behaviour for us! That’s how we shop. All. The.Time.

I get that it could make others roll their eyes at us though. All that discussing and analysing over a sack of rice or fruits. We don’t do that for every item. I mean, I even make a list before we go shopping. All the stuff on the list doesn’t need any discussion; we’d already have discussed it before heading to the store. So we just buy them. Simple. It’s the stuff that’s not on the list that gets debated upon.

And that is fun.

For us.

That’s because we both have an analysis fetish. We love to analyse things to death. We try to curb that instinct in us at times, but at other times we tend to unleash this instinct. It’s sort of like foreplay for us. Mentally. But I can see why it doesn’t work for everyone.

We discovered this compatibility existed right from the beginning –  on our first date, in fact. It was yet another thing that we had in common. So everything from shopping to movies to books and even our relationship itself gets analysed from time to time. And I can’t even begin to tell you how great it is for me to finally meet someone who loves to debate, to discuss, to exchange opinions about things as much as I do!

It makes me feel that I’m finally not alone. Not anymore.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone
whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall
into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”
― Robert Fulghum

 

 

365 Days of Writing: Day 8 – There are 2 Types of People

We’d just come home from a grocery shopping trip and I was putting away the grocery and the grocery bags. And I suddenly recalled the time my SO asked me to live with him.

Now, you may be wondering, why at this particular unromantic moment, while I’m busy with a household chore would I be recalling something as significant as that.

There is a reason for that. Let me explain.

I’ve mentioned before, how I found my SO. After several months of dating, and weekend sleepovers in his place, we decided to try out for a longer stay – 10 days to be exact. We realised that our relationship was becoming serious and we wanted to see if we could stand each other’s company for longer than a weekend (or if we’d end up killing one another). So I put in my leave for the period and went over to his place.

There I found that he’d cleared one section of his wardrobe for me. So I could place my clothes and whatnot there. He’d never done that before (because I’d never stayed longer than a weekend so I never needed that space). I knew he did it out of practical reasons, but the very fact that he’d thought of my convenience made me melt.

I’m sappy that way.

Anyway, after a few days, he thought it’d be a good idea for us to go grocery shopping together because, well, it’s a mundane, routine activity that nevertheless tends to cause arguments in couples. (Plus we needed to restock our groceries; we were running out of food) He figured it’d be a good idea to test our compatibility through our shopping habits. Turns out, we’re very compatible in that area.

To be perfectly honest, it surprised me back then how compatible we were in doing all those mundane everyday activities together – the housework, the gardening, grocery shopping etc. Somehow, doing those activities with him was fun. It still is. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things about us as a couple – the fun we have doing the normal day-to-day stuff together.

So, back to the main story.

After the grocery shopping fun, we came home and put away the groceries. And then I sat down in the middle of the kitchen floor to happily commence one of my favourite household chores (yes, I’m exciting and adventurous that way) – folding the grocery bags. Have you seen those memes that say “There are 2 kinds of people” and one of the pictures is of grocery bags stuffed willy-nilly in a drawer and the other picture is of neatly folded triangles of bags? I’m the latter.

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Like so

Anyway, so there I am, happily doing my thing and he’s just standing there watching me with much amusement (it still amuses him to this day). And then without any warning whatsoever, he goes “So, when are you moving in with me?” Just like that.

My brain froze.

I literally just sat there gaping at him like an idiot, trying to fathom what he’d just said.

After several seconds, or minutes, or days (I couldn’t tell. It was all a blur) he goes “Well?” with an even more amused and expectant look.

“What?” I croaked out finally.

“When. Are. You. Moving. In. With. Me?”

“Umm… huh? Wha… wait!” I finally snapped out of it.

“Why are you asking me this now??? I’m in the middle of the kitchen, folding plastic bags and you’re asking me now?!”

“Yes, I’m asking you now. Why not? It’s the perfect time”

“What do you mean perfect time?! It’s the worst time! You’re supposed to ask me in a more.. romantic way and time! I’m not prepared!”

“Why not? You knew this week was to be an experiment. So you knew the question was coming. I just decided to ask now instead of later since I already know I want you to be with me. What’s the point of waiting? We already know we can live together. These past few days have shown us that. You’re sitting on my kitchen floor, happily folding plastic bags and looking like you belong here already. So I asked”

At that matter of fact (yet revelatory) response, my heart melted (yes, again) and my brain went to mush. I mean, what do you say to that? You see what I live with?! That combination of disarming sweetness and logic always gets me.

Every. Single. Time.

Sigh… and that was it. That’s how I came to live with this wonderful man and our 3 amazing dogs.

365 Days of Writing: Day 3 – Of Love & Language

What is the language of love? I’ve always wondered. It seems to mean different things to different people.

If I were to look to my SO for a clue, my first instinct would probably be to say, “teasing”, because that’s what he does to people he loves – the greater the love, the more the teasing.

But if I were to dig deeper, I’d have to say the language of love (inasmuch as he’s concerned) would be “action”. And by that, I mean he lets his actions show/tell me how much he loves me rather than his words. He’s not one for declarations (he finds them cheesy), and he feels that it’s easy to say the words even if you don’t feel them – where’s the evidence? So, with him it’s a rare occasion for me to hear the words. But it’s still easy for me to know the depth of his feelings through what he does (or is willing to do) for me.

And every time he does one of those things, my heart melts; I become a puddle of emotions; there might even be hearts in my eyes.

One of those things happened a short while ago.

It all started with us skyping with his family (he’s from Romania and his parents are still there). At the end of the call, I mentioned to him that I’d like to learn Romanian so that I would be able to converse with them more easily when we visit his parents. He was very happy with the suggestion and started teaching me a few words and phrases. I asked him if we could take it a step further with me labeling every thing around the house with both English and Romanian words so that I could recognise them by sight at least – that’s how my mum got both my sis and myself to learn both English and Tamil (our Mother Tongue) when we were kids. He thought it was a great idea, and then added that I should add Tamil words to the labels as well.

I was a little surprised at that. He hadn’t really expressed a keen interest in learning Tamil before, so I wondered why now? I mean, there was no real need for him to do so. We communicate entirely in English, and my family is fluent in English as well, so unlike my difficulty with his parents he’d never have any difficulty communicating with mine. He replied that he’s very much aware of that. But Tamil is my Mother Tongue, just like Romanian is his. So if I was learning his, then it’s only fair that he learn mine. Furthermore, when (not if) we have our own kids, we’d want them to learn both our languages and cultures won’t we? So he may as well get started now by learning mine.

My heart melted. As you can very well imagine.

So, that’s why I went about labeling pretty much everything in the house in English, Romanian and Tamil.

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Exhibit A – You’ll notice that I labelled the Tamil word phonetically

Now, both my SO and I are regularly learning each other’s Mother Tongues via language learning apps. I’m learning Romanian via Duolingo; he’s learning Tamil via Memrise (you can find both apps in iOS or Android versions). And I still find things around our house to label.

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Exhibit B

That reminds me – I need to get more labels; we’re running out.

So what’s your language of love with your significant other?

365 Days of Writing: Day 1- The Horse, The Piglet and The Cow

Life these past 2 years has been quite a change from anything I’ve experienced before. In some ways, it’s been my most adventurous time (though most people may not agree). In more ways than one, my whole life has taken a 180 degree turn and I feel that I’m all the better for it. And it all started by me swiping right 😉

I’d never have met the love of my life if not for his 3 dogs. If it wasn’t for the photos of them in his profile, I’d never have swiped right. And that would have been the biggest mistake of my life. But those 3 beautiful dogs; they had me. What choice did I have? If not for them, I’d still probably be working in a 9-5 job in Singapore (after returning home from my long trip). If not for them, I’d still be single (probably). If not for them, I’d still be living with my mum in a HDB flat in Singapore. If not for them, I’d never have known what I’d be missing out on. So, I think it’s only fair to say that everything I have know, is because of those 3.

So, it’s only right that I dedicate my first post back in this long neglected blog to my 3 wonderful babies – Sasha (The Horse), Cas (The Piglet) and Snowy (The Cow).

Sasha_On_Rug
Sasha (The Horse)

Sasha as you can see, is part German Shepard. We don’t know what her other parts are. She’s the eldest, and behaves like one. She also behaves like a hyperactive 4 year old kid. She has long legs like a horse and gallops like one – it’s quite fun to watch her go; even at this age she’s fast! To those who meet her for the first time, she’s the most aloof and suspicious. But once you get to know her, you can’t help but fall in love. She still pretends to be aloof with us at times – getting off the couch when we sit with her – but she shows her love in other ways – like demanding belly rubs or sitting next to me when I’m clearly upset so as to comfort me with her presence (it works!). She’s my baby, and she’s his darling. They’ve been through quite a bit together – she was his first rescue dog.

Boyness
Cas (The Piglet)

Now here, we have Cas (short for Casanova. Why? I mean look at him. If that is not the look of a loverboy, I don’t know what is!) He’s the handsome one and our only boy. He’s also a rescue dog (just like the other two) but unlike Sasha who was taken in as a young pup, he was only rescued as an adult. He’s the middle child and has the most easygoing temperament of them all. But don’t be fooled by those soulful eyes – he’s got killer instincts, this boy! He’s also unexpectedly the most affectionate one, and the one that demands the most attention from us. He lays at our feet and looks up at us with those eyes, and we’re done. We have to pet him and rub his belly, while he makes those grunting noises (like a pig; hence the nickname). And for a street dog, he’s the most fastidious of the lot when it comes to food! The other two will eat anything you place in front of them, but not this guy. He’s such a pain to feed I tell ya.

Snowy
Snowy (The Cow)

And last, but certainly not the least, we have Snowy. She is the most loving of them all, grooming us at every opportunity, walking on our feet to show us she’s present, and awkwardly wagging her curly tail whenever she sees us. She’s also the youngest, and the grumpiest of the three, always growling at them (which they ignore, completely). She’s the slowest (in speed and intellect) and the best one to hug to sleep. She’s the dopiest as well; that’s what makes her so endearing. We call her the cow because, well (I’m going to hell for this) when she lies down, she looks like one of those cows on the Hindu temple walls (before you decide I’m blaspheming please note that I’m a Hindu myself). She also runs like a cow (we have videos to prove it) and loves grazing on grass (I’m not kidding!). Hence, she’s our cow.

And there you have it. Our 3 beautiful babies; all rescue dogs; all loving. 3 distinct personalities.

Quote of the Day 040915

He had raised her from the dead and granted her the freedom of the living, had freed her to choose and be chosen, and she had chosen him. As if life was a river and men its stepping stones, she had crossed the liquid years and returned to command his dreams, usurping another woman’s place in his khayal, his godlike, omnipotent fancy. Perhaps he was no longer his own master. What if he tired of her? – No, he would never tire of her. – But could she be banished in her turn, or could she alone decide to stay or go?

‘I have come home after all,’ she told him. ‘You have allowed me to return, and so here I am, at my journey’s end. And now, Shelter of the World, I am yours.’

Until you’re not, the Universal Ruler thought. My love, until you’re not.

 

~ The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie

Quote of the Day 180815

Lately, he thought a lot about the story Father had told them the night before the trip to Kabul, the old peasant Baba Ayub and the div. Abdullah would find himself on a spot where Pari had once stood, her absence like a smell pushing up from the earth beneath his feet, and his legs would buckle, and his heart would collapse in on itself, and he would long for a swig of the magic potion the div had given Baba Ayub so he too could forget.

But there was no forgetting. Pari hovered, unbidden at the edge of Abdullah’s vision everywhere he went. She was like the dust that clung to his shirt. She was in the silences that had become so frequent at the house, silences that welled up between their words, sometimes cold and hollow, sometimes pregnant with things that went unsaid, like a cloud filled with rain that never fell.

 

~ And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini