Thursday, March 31, 2011

Secrets - continued

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She walked into their backyard. The overgrown lemon tree nearly touched the roof. She hadn't the heart to prune it or cut it down. The tangy crisp scent in the cool night air gave her an added impetus. It was all fresh. Like the fresh start she was going to make. Away from the silences and glances filled with loathing.

"Is there something that I've done wrong?" Roma asked Rix when she stood in front of the tree. The solid trunk behind her gave her support. She felt brave shaded by its branches. He stood about five paces from her. A far cry from the days when he would stand with his arms around her waist, pressed against her like they were one unit.

"No." Rix jammed his hands in his pockets and began shuffling his feet, looking down. That to Roma, meant he wanted to leave.

"Rix, look at me!"

"I don't WANT to Roma!" He roared. Roma fell silent in shock.

Recovering, she said,"I want to know exactly why you've turned so cold? You keep saying that it's nothing. I feel like an unwelcome guest in my own home. The man I married isn't there. I don't know you Rix. You hate me now don't you? You can't stand the sight of me can you? Well, that's just fine then! Because I'll have you know that I don't feel any differently. I can't stand the sight of you either. I thought I married a man. You're just his shadow. I've carried this thing in me that I've wanted to share...share with you and find a moments peace in your arms. I have this huge big secret and you're not there for me to say a word about it! I want to talk to you. Ask about what's going on in your life. About why our money is going so fast. Why you look so angry all the time. Who in heaven's name is your partner? What sort of man keeps his wife away from everything? Takes her money too and keeps her shut out? Where are you RIX?" She shoved him as she said this last.

Rix had stood through her tirade with his arms at his sides, palms and jaw clenched. When she shoved him, he grabbed her wrists and nearly shoved her down but the look on her face stopped him.

A door slid shut in the neighbor's yard. Their black cat perched herself on the dividing wall and watched them, tail curling in anticipation.

Rix took a deep breath and in a voice that came from a pool gone dry of emotion, said, "Just sit the heck down." She sat, tears trailing silently down her cheeks. He looked at her, shook his head once and threw it back to look at the stars. Then he sat and said, "Just don't interrupt. I wanted to spare you everything. But you can't let it go. You can't do your best. I'm falling apart and there you go trying harder to fall apart faster! I need you to be strong and you shrink away. Look at this!" He picked up the hem of her frock. It had stray threads and had faded from a bright clover green to a dusty grey. She opened her mouth to say something and he said, "I said don't interrupt. Please."

Roma nodded. 

He dropped the hem and continued, "You don't know who you married? Think I recognize the woman who climbed Mt.Whitney ahead of me? Think I recognize the woman who had to change her work route to keep admirers from hounding her? The woman who read and laughed and sang? Where is SHE Roma?"

She kept silent.

He looked enraged. An inner dam had burst. "Do you want to know what I've been hiding from you? Do you want to know why you've never met my partner? Well, you can share my sleepless nights now. My "partner" as you call her..." Roma started and he continued looking into her eyes, "my partner is a woman I knew long before I met you."

Roma sat very still. "She and I dated as teenagers. I've always loved risks and she seemed exciting to be around. I didn't realize I got into an organized crime ring when I hung out with her other friends. She just seemed edgy and a little raw. Well, remember the day we drove back from the doctors' separately? After the fertility tests? Well, I stopped at the mall to get some supplements the doctor had recommended and ran into her. She looked awful. She pulled me aside and threatened to tell the police about..." he stopped, dragged a deep breath as Roma lay on the sand, sleeveless arm coated with mud, "a hit and run we were involved in. Only, I didn't know what I was doing. I was bloody stupid. Stupid. She asked me to drive blind folded on a deserted road. On a bet. I didn't think anything could go so wrong. Apparently the ringleader had pushed a guy in front of the car as it went forward. I heard a scream and a thud. I tried to tear open my blindfold but her hands were like a vise on my face. She took the keys out of the ignition and a couple of guys drove us back. Later, I begged her to tell me what exactly went on that night. She just laughed and said that I'd solved a problem for all of them. Better yet, I didn't even know the details. I left her then. I was seventeen and was frightened for my life and what I had done."

Roma said nothing. She saw a dandelion grow through the cracks in the pavement. Her mind wandered to some strange recipe that called for dandelion steeped in hot water as a remedy for a cold.

"Roma?" he asked and brought her back. He talked to her. Not at her. Strange, he sounded like the old Rix. But who was the old Rix? She hadn't known that man either! She looked at him saying nothing. Lying in the same fetal position she had taken on.

"Well...well...when she saw me again, she insisted that I take her to a restaurant. She was haggard from drinking. Lost all of her youthful charm and was on welfare. An old woman at twenty-nine. She ate a huge meal. Then she dropped a bombshell. She told me that...that I have a daughter. That she had been pregnant when I left her and had thought nothing of it. That she would always find some one to marry and that her family would take her back. Only, she couldn't leave the ring those many years ago. She was sworn to secrecy and threatened with dire consequences if she ever attempted a new life. She moved a lot since then but lived in constant fear. She said she had tried reaching me. She told me that I had to start supporting her and her daughter. I told her that I wanted no part of it. But she held that night of the stupid blind folded drive over my head. She said that she knew the victim and that if I didn't help her, we'd both go to jail. She expected that she would be treated better there anyway!"

He leaned against the trellis post now. His nostrils flaring as he took great gulps of air through his nose and mouth. The choke hold that he had on him eased. He spoke, more out of compulsion and relief than anger now. "She...she demanded a lot. That I stay with them. Her and her daughter. I eventually worked it out so that I could spend the day with them and come back home at night. She had spied on us, you and me, when we shopped and she threatened to harm you if I didn't cooperate. I told her that there was no way that I could do that. She told me that I could have one of two choices and that there was no more to discuss. So I quit my job. I started working from home. Her home. I don't even know if the child is mine. But she's caught in this trap as much as I am. She's scared of her mother and her mood-swings. Scared of the men who come home at night. She locks her bedroom door and her windows because she knows that they are up to no good. I help her out. The girl. Her name's Stacey. She's a strong kid."

Roma pushed herself up now, propped on one arm and asked, "How old is she?"

"She's about twelve years old."

Roma nodded, thinking back, counting. It made sense.

"So you stayed in her house all day?"

Rix answered the underlying question. "We never had a physical relationship if that's what you mean. But I did everything else and continued to work from home at coding. I cooked, cleaned, took Stacey to school and gave Mara money. That's her name. The woman. Mara. That's why all the money disappeared. She...she used it for some pretty extravagant things. But she looked..." he looked at Roma and sighed, "I guess that's why I was upset when I came home. She was sick and dressed like she didn't care. Bought designer labels just to throw away the money we had worked so hard for. But she never wore them. She tried to be wifely initially. We even went to malls pretending that we were a family. She would make Stacey miss school so we could go on a "pretend family trip" as she called it. I wouldn't let her near me. And old habits die hard. She went back to being herself soon enough."

He looked at her huge serious eyes ringed with dark circles of stress and worry. Affection and sympathy washed over him. He held out an arm to hold her. She hesitated, then went to him. her body tense. He began to pat her back like he used to. Falling into the same rhythm like nothing had changed. Roma found herself gradually letting the tension seep out.

"It's terrible." she said. "But it's got to be stopped." 

"Yes." Rix held her shoulder tight. "I should've just gone to the police sooner."

Roma nodded. "Yes, probably. But you were afraid." She looked up at him. "But it's okay now isn't it Rix? I know and we'll do whatever we can to get us out of it. Even if it means having to leave here. I'm here Rix, I'm with you. Remember I told you that you were my whole future? That's why I fell apart. I saw my future going to pieces. I didn't know what was wrong. I realize that you thought that you were protecting me. But you ended up hating me for a burden I never knew I caused you to carry."

He looked at her, eyes moist and said, "You didn't do anything. I was a fool and I should've seen it. We'll go to the police tomorrow." He frowned, "What secret have you been keeping from me?"

Roma drew herself up. She looked at the ground. Well, it seemed to be a night for confessions. It had to be dealt with.

"I spoke to my mother around a year and a half ago about us trying to have children." Rix looked on, his attention completely focused on her. So unusual, so new, yet so familiar. Roma continued, "Actually, I told her right after we had the tests for fertility, that we'd tried for a year and nothing happened. She came over that day you know. You were gone for so long. Of course now I know why."

She turned into his chest and spoke. "She...she told me something that I didn't know. That my siblings didn't know either. Years ago, when my mother volunteered at a hospital, she helped a young girl in the delivery room. For some reason, the single mother to be wished desperately that she wouldn't have a boy. She had been young. About eighteen or nineteen. She didn't want a boy because she said that all the boys in her family died young from a muscle wasting disease. Apparently it's transferred from mother to son. A girl was born and the young mother decided to give her up for adoption later as she couldn't take care of her. My mother had been so moved by the girl's agitation and guilt that she told her that she would adopt the girl."

She sat up and looked at the compassion and understanding in Rix's eyes. Her own eyes soft and voice trembling, she said, "I'm the girl my mother adopted."

Rix enfolded her in his arms and they sat, in wonder and silence.

Roma said, her voice muffled by his shirt, "She didn't tell me about it. She thought that I was healthy and happy and there was always a chance that the children we would have would be healthy. I think we're lucky that nothing happened when we tried. As soon as my mother told me, I went ahead to get tested and sure enough, I have the gene and very high chances of passing it on to a son. If we were to have a daughter, she would carry it to the next generation. Things between us were so bad by then, I decided that I was better off without a child to bring into the bitterness."

Playing with the buttons on his shirt, she said, "I don't think I want to have babies at all. It wouldn't be right. You're lucky you have a daughter."

"I don't really know if she's mine." Rix said slowly.

"Does it really matter?" Roma asked sitting up. Rix looked at her and the many terrible days of the past. A weaker woman would have broken for sure. Here she had handled her own tragedy without an ounce of support from him. Did it matter that Stacey, whom he helped every day with math and bully trouble may not be his biological daughter? No. No it didn't really. Life had strange ways of offering solutions.

Speaking in measured tones, he made their to-do list for the next day. 

"Okay. So first, I call up my old boss and ask if he'll take me back. I left on good terms. I don't think it'll be a problem. Then we go to the police station and I confess. Once they handle Mara, we let them know that we're open to adopting Stacey. I don't think Stacey will object. She is terribly afraid of her mother. Do you know I went to the doctor with her when she had the flu? She told them that I was her father. She held my hand and sat scared when the nurse brought out a shot. She hates needles."

Roma touched his cheek tenderly. "You should have told me. It's all water under the bridge now. But there's nothing in the world more important than how safe and loved we are in our own homes. I had that all my life not realizing the double blessing it was in my case. I would never hold it back from my husband."

"We'll do our date night more often now." Rix said seriously.

"Well, it can't be a date night with an almost teenager can it?" Roma asked

"No. Not really. It'll be a family night." Rix said.

"That sounds about perfect." Roma said. 

They confessed the next morning in the police station. The first few days were extremely stressful. They gladly stayed up, stressed out and sleepless together. When it was ruled that Rix could not be held accountable, Mara was taken away for blackmail and drug possession. The accident was never brought up as she refused to testify against the ring leader. He was magnified into a myth of gigantic proportions by the alcohol that addled her brains. He had apparently been locked up for years in some small town jail cell. He would only rarely see the light of day for many decades to come.

Stacey was in a children's home for a brief three days during which time Rix and Roma visited her everyday bringing candy, books and games. The authorities allowed her to go home with them even before the adoption papers were signed. She went, basking in warmth and security for the first time in her twelve years. Rix and Roma also registered themselves as foster parents for any children who might need a home.

They continued to have a "backyard night" for many years with Stacey and then later, with Ronald and Davey. They were twin boys who at four refused to be separated. 

During back yard night, they played, "Guess my secret."

Rix and Roma nearly drew the line when Stacey declared, when no one could guess, that she was no longer a virgin.

Again, they only "nearly" drew the line.

The communication channels, no matter how ghastly at times, were steadfastly kept open.

                                                  The End.

Secrets - part 1

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Dinner was delicious. They ate in silence.The colors and aromas rose, tantalizing the senses and disappeared into the vacuum that existed between them. Rix and Roma sat as they always did. Hunched over their plates, ready to pounce.

His face never betraying anything, Rix thought to himself, "She slouches like she doesn't care. Doesn't care that she could look better for my sake. After all that I do, it doesn't matter to her how I see her after a day outside. I'm sick of it. Sick of it. I should just let her know. Tell her everything instead of sparing her the worry. Then she'll have a reason to look like a waste."

Something in his demeanor must have changed because Roma sank back further. Her shoulders protracted another inch and her small body shrank. She thought, "I'm so tired of carrying all of this alone. He should be man enough to face this. Instead, he looks like he cannot stand the sight of me. He's slouched over the soup like he'll fall into it. I thought he was a man. A man's man. Well, I can't stand the sight of him either."

She put her spoon down and suddenly straightened her back as he continued to carefully spoon out the soup. He didn't notice that her perpetual posture had changed.

What had they seen in each other? She wondered now. Her husband of 5 years was a different man.

She remembered Rix from their early days. The Rix who would dive fully clothed into the pool because "it was sweltering" and he "couldn't stand it another minute!!" The man who brought her flowers and gave them to her with a smacking kiss. He would then proceed to snip the flowers leaving a little stalk and weave her a little garland or hairpiece that she wore proudly all day, even to the hardware store.

She was his queen and he was her future. He was what her life would be about. She had decided this after they had hiked up a trail in the Sierra Nevada. They reached the higher Loch Leven and he had stopped to throw off his backpack, drag hers off and then run into the lake with her. A deep blue jewel in the midst of rock and pines. They had floated for an hour, face up, looking at tufts in the sky, talking about nothing at all. This, she would live on forever, she had decided then. If he asked ofcourse.

He did ask and she agreed. They were married three years from the time they had met and had proceeded to live earnestly and with as much spontaneity as before.

That was before they had wanted a baby.

He had four siblings and ten nieces and nephews. She had two siblings and four nieces. They were eager to add to the brood. Something changed in the year they tried, desperately.

The next change came rather suddenly.

Rix announced one day that he would quit work and start his own firm. It took Roma by utter surprise. They had made a decent living. She worked as a nurse and Rix was a coder. It didn't make sense that he wanted to upend all of this. Rix and his partner were to start something. She never got to meet the partner. But suddenly, their savings, hard earned, dwindled to a few thousands. Rix was so remote that when she had asked him about it, he had simply stared at her. Her face saturated with confusion and hurt seemed to annoy him. He stared her down like he wanted the annoyance gone.

Roma had walked away feeling afraid and new to her, feeling unwanted.

It had gone downhill from there.

She snapped today. The comfort imparted by the scent of the lemon grass and the cheerful homey scene at the dining table struck her as utterly false. Roma was suddenly enraged. It was like covering rot with silks, satins and musk.

They were lying to each other. He had been lying to her.

And she?

She had carried her own dreadful burden alone for long enough.

They would have it out now.

"Rix?" she addressed her husband for the first time in a few weeks.

He looked up startled.

"I have to talk to you."

"Wait." He kept spooning out the soup, in a measured way. Either not feeling or not caring for the urgency in her tone.

"Now!" she had never raised her voice before. His uncaring placidity drove her over the edge.

He shot up and pushed the chair back violently. It staggered and toppled.

Roma stood up slowly, her back now straight and her chin lifted.

They would either stay married after this.

Or start their lives over...


To be continued....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Panama and gorgeous humidity ;-)

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Truth be told, I do love it! What's not to? If frizzy hair doesn't make or break your day then this is utter skin nourishing paradise. For me at least. No more strange ailments and weird treatments. Aside from a few basics, the skin in Panama gets it's nourishment from just being here.

The rains began today with the kind of thunder that one hears in Panama alone. The sky simply bellowed into all that vast rain forest on one side and then, the ever reaching sky-scrapers on the other. If you live in a high rise in Panama, the view alone is worth the ridiculous monthly rent. Just so you could judge rain drop mechanics from an angle you've never encountered. Or the beginning of a rainbow that people see from the street. Or if you live by the bay, and it's not raining, the fireworks. A more generous display is hard to come by.

The rains in Panama rarely disrupt the regular rhythm of life. If you're caught in the rain, go stand somewhere dry. You're guaranteed to be on your way within the next five minutes(2010 was an exception though. They actually had the city shut down because the rains played havoc. The kids were thrilled of course! No school. I should've grown up in Panama. The kids get time off so often that they're practically leaping, fully charged, to get to school when the break is over.).

The first picture is of the Chagres river which is part of the Panama Canal. There is a rain forest resort built unobtrusively in the middle of the rainforest through which this river flows. They have sky tours and canal rides but really, just being there is gorgeous enough. Much to enjoy if you can keep from gaping at the scenery.

It never gets dry here but rain gives the foliage such a lushness that it's hard to remember that there is a bustling city to this country as well. This photo was taken in the El Nispero zoo. El Valle, a couple of hours away from the city, is a valley made fertile by volcanic soil. The volcano is extinct and the development in and around it is enchanting. There is a zoo in the middle of completely natural settings, markets selling souvenirs and many small restaurants. I had the best tasting margarita pizza in this little restaurant some distance from the main shops. And yes, if you're crazy about baubles, pretty boxes and things, well, either bring a really big bag for the stuff you WILL buy or just stay away all together. You can't walk away from the handcrafted pieces waiting to be picked up.

Aside from that, you actually have cooler temperatures here. It can actually get cold!

Little section of the rain forest resort in Gamboa.

Monday, March 28, 2011


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We see people live out their whole lives making mundane activity their sole focus and others who view the world through intellectual and philosophical lenses. I'm guilty of automatically categorizing people this way. It's almost a distaste for conversation/people/beliefs that do not have a crazy, creative or in some way, offbeat sense of life.

I've fallen asleep mentally around persistent conversation regarding daily routines, clothes, diamonds and even phone calls. The ones who can talk of things removed from daily life seemed exciting, far more intelligent and appeared to be in control! Them versus harried women losing it over missing socks or a grocery store trip.

It took being a full time mom and housewife to understand the other side. I still fight my prejudices :-)

But kids have a way of slamming reality in your face!

It seems that while the creative, crazy, offbeat sense of life is the elixir of a youthful and carefree mind, the so called mundane activity is like the wall of a dam, or the bank of a river or even, in the words of yet another socialite I know, the sturdy gold bracket to a 2 carat diamond earring. They channel the brilliance of the rest and pretty much hold it all together. Someone's gotta act!

Pretty doctor lady who talked only about her kids truly wanted nothing but the best for them. Actually, she can come up with some great solutions too. Once we get beyond the trauma of getting them out the door in the morning. It took a few months of silence on my part for her to encourage me to open up. I did, humoring her (I thought) and found that she actually understood! It was an hour before I finished and had to leave. But I'd talked about something I was determined to leave as a non-issue, for an hour! Boy it felt good!!

Besides, I tried what she told me. I had on Mini-Him's (my son, a copy of my husband Him, so Mini-Him) favorite music when he got dressed. He had to get to breakfast before the music got over. It was such a fun three months before we got over that solution and had to find another one!

Mundane conversations and solutions resulting from them free up your brain-that's my thought for the day. Frost could've meant any number of things when he declared that he had miles to go "before he slept."

I feel like I have miles to go every night!! It's not just the dishes, or the laundry. It's the utter conflict between what I really want to do and what absolutely must be done so the household (read lives) is in order. It could be just that one chore and it seems ever so burdensome when weighed against a happy read.

There's nothing wrong with the chore and certainly nothing wrong with the urge to read.

It's the awful divide between the ideas of both. The idea that so-called superior conversation could sustain a full, healthy life and the flawed idea that pedestrian conversation is a condition to be avoided at all costs.

So now I talk about anything. The stuff you learn is amazing. The girls let loose about all sorts of inanity. "Him" rolled his eyes on Saturday when I put a friend on speaker phone and went about chopping up spinach and onions for a lunch soup. It was venting by turn, out of turn, substitute name calling (kids in the house) and then, well, she went about her day, actually getting stuff done. I went on to serve a smashing soup, had Mini-Him learn some more math and then, sat down to read with a heart light and happy.

It's what I now believe. Mundane or Inspired, it comes from the same source. I would absolutely smother one and feed the other before I HAD to change. It feels good too! The knowledge that I can handle a practical necessity as well as a spiritual one.

I believe now that one would be pretty useless without the other!!

Happy cooking/baking/reading/writing/running/just plain living!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Photo credit - Dan,

Red Blossoms Love and Anger 
Two fade in time and blazing sun
One grows in eternal memory

Yoga with a name and other illusions

I've practiced yoga off and on for over two decades now. It started when I was twelve.

Dad taught me a brief series of postures and I hated the achy stretchy feeling I was left with. Years later, the actual physical balance and subsequent mental calm were more valuable than moments of discomfort.

Which is why my encounter with a seasoned Yogi last week had me shocked. The man started off with what I was convinced, were awfully simple exercises. I'd done more right?

The camel pose? The side plank? The crane? huh? They're mid-level difficult right?

Well, single-leg rotations at 30 degrees and 90 degrees are okay. 15 times clockwise and anti clockwise may be taking it up a notch. Then of course, come double leg rotations. We're talking all the way - legs going all the way to the right, top, left, bottom without touching the floor - and up again. Together. Of course, vanity demands that I stay elegant and pretend like I'm juuuust fine! Yeah baby. 15 of those too.

Some exercises seemed nearly juvenile initially. But repeat them ten times with breath and boy do you feel your insides just burning! Think Pavan Muktasana is, well, full of air? He just combined it with a full sit up while still hugging the knees. Sends shivers down your lumbar spine but you stop thinking of an asana in simplistic terms.

I've decided NOT to talk about Hatha-Vinyasa (my preferred style along with a mix of my own making) or any asana like I am a practitioner worth my salt.

Which I am most certainly not by the look of things!

I lost weight though. About 5 pounds in 2 weeks which I did not expect.

I'll be focusing on strength training from now on. The low back, belly and knees took the worst beating.

 I'll dance through poses much later.

To fear Fear and Love love

Love lives
Does it grow?
Fear thrives
sun or snow
The will to live
the will to love
break they would
entwined by fear's reed
Life giving bees buzz
yet the stinger rules thought
Their honey'd love affair
unrejoiced, though it aught
Would love taste
as in imagination
Did not fear add spice
and hope become trepidation?
photo credit - xedos4;
Does man need fear
to know all of love?
For to love without fear
Would be blazing like the sun
Unafraid of flares
or awesomeness
Unafraid of nothingness
Certain only of radiance
Caring only for warmth
Too much in the desert
Too little in the frost
But glowing, 
yet cannot take
and hold in tenderness