Thursday, January 19, 2017

Crossing Something Off My Bucket List

One would expect that I would be super excited about doing something on my bucket list. Of course! But with that excitement comes worry. Before I talk about worrying, let's talk about what I am going to tick off my bucket list.

For years, I have wanted to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival. And for years I haven't. I haven't because of the same dreary reasons we use all the time - "I can't take time off from work", "I don't want to go alone", "I forgot to register", "I haven't booked a place to stay". And as a caregiver, there is the additional excuse of "Who will look after my father?"

Most primary caregivers (including me) will tell you that being a caregiver often leaves us feeling that our lives have come to a stop. There is only care-giving.  Our minds are more than just occupied, they are packed to the brim and overflowing. Overflowing with thoughts of medicine, therapies, patient daily activities, nutrition, entertainment, emotional support, dealing with emergencies & demands. We live in a world of "what-ifs" & "Oh hell". It feels like slowly drowning in quicksand.

It took me a long time to overcome what I call "the caregiver's Chakravyūha" (a multi-tier defensive formation that looks like a blooming lotus or disc when viewed from above. The warriors at each interleaving position would be in an increasingly tough position to fight.). We war with "I have so much to do to be a (perfect) caregiver" and "there is no time to do all that I need to do" adding "I need to also ensure that other commitments don't fall thru' the cracks" and wanting to do something purely for myself, by myself. And that causes guilt. When it shouldn't.

It took me time to break out of this unending spiral-trap Chakravyūha. I did, and so I am off to the Lit Fest with college-mates (Santana and Aradhana). Whoopee!! I am so excited.

I decide to tell Anna that I will be gone for 5 days.

Me: Anna, I am going to Jaipur.

Anna: Why? Do you have work there?

Me (for a split second I think of saying "yes" but don't) : No Anna. I am going to the Jaipur Literary Fest.

Anna: Why?

A simple question needed a simple answer.

Me: Because I like books. I like reading. I write.

Then there is a long pause. I expect that Anna, as usual, will ask me who will look after him. He doesn't.

Anna had a grey leather duffle bag like this one. His "last minute bag".

Anna: Sangeeta, I need a "last minute bag". Anna has always called cabin baggage as "last minute bag".

Me: Anna, you are not going anywhere. Why do you need a "last minute bag"?

Anna: I should have one. What if we have to travel?

Me: Anna, you need a "last minute bag" if you are travelling. You are not. I am.

Anna (still thinking he is going to travel): I need a place to keep my things.

Me: What do you want to keep in the bag Anna?

Anna: Lots of things. Pause.  My toothbrush & toothpaste. Shaving kit. A change of clothes. My pajamas. Bedroom chappals. 

Me: And a towel.

Anna: And a towel. And emergency medication.

He remembers everything that he used to pack. And forgets that he thought that he was travelling with me!

So, I am off. Sanjiv, my husband, is going to hold fort. 

I am not going to worry. I am not going to feel guilty. I am going to enjoy myself to the hilt. Just the anticipation gives me a high.

Jaipur ......... Brace yourself!

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