Thursday, March 25, 2010

How do you measure love? In grams, gallons or bytes?

If you believe in reincarnation, then you should know that my father is a reincarnation of the famous English poet and philosopher Thomas Gray. My sisters and I will swear on this for we were the only lucky ones privy to our dad’s profound philosophical insights.

As children, we grew up on quotations from Thomas Gray’s poem ‘Elegy written in a Country Churchyard’. The following lines from this poem were discussed so extensively, so often that if I were to wake up from a coma with amnesia a few years from now, I will still recite them without missing a beat.

“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

Can you think of a better way to teach your children the futility of joining the maddening rat race called life? Dad enriched our childhoods further with acute philosophical observations like ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ every time he caught one of us standing in front of the mirror unashamedly admiring our own reflections, questions like ‘Were we born into this world with the comforts of a fan and a fridge?’ whenever we whined incessantly about the power outages and the unbearable heat of Chennai. It was only natural that we nicknamed him ‘Mr. Gray’.

Now the point of this whole big introduction is to show you that I come from very good erudite stock. Those who believe in the laws of genetics would naturally assume that I would be, at least a little bit, philosophically inclined.

If you had bet your house on that, all I can say is 'oops'. I am afraid you are about to join the ranks of the homeless. Just like weight loss, philosophy eludes me. But determined to thumb my nose at fate and get the hang of this profound thinking business, I had been picking my brain lately about something that I can think profoundly about. I never had this much trouble even when raising toddlers. After hours of exhaustive brain picking, I came up with a question that might convince you that I am my father’s daughter.

How do you measure love? In grams, gallons or bytes?

The commercial on TV that claims ‘some things are priceless but for everything else, there is Master Card’ is based on the assumption that love is not measurable. I can put a big hole in that theory and for this I have my kids to thank for.

Both my kids love me just as much as I love them. I know this because I can measure their love quite easily.

I can measure my youngest child’s love by how many kisses she blows my way every day. The daily count starts in the morning. On her way to the bus stop each morning, she stops after every few steps to turn around and blow kisses to me. It doesn’t bother her that the bus is fully loaded and the driver, parents at the bus stop, the kids aboard the bus are all impatiently waiting for her to hurry and board so they can be on their way. She doesn’t let a little pressure like that deprive me of my daily love dose and always takes the time to blow my quota of kisses before boarding. At last count, she topped her own record with a round 100 kisses a day. Now anything less than 80, I feel unloved.

My eldest child is unique in many ways and all the more so in her expression of her love. She pats my head to show her support and rubs my head in a circular motion to show her affection. Please be sure to note the difference here. To pat is to console while to rub is to love. The more she loves, the harder she rubs. On days when her love for me peaks, I worry a little about premature balding. For now I am using a special herbal hair oil treatment for damage control. The day when all that rubbing leaves behind a hint of a bald spot, I will have to gently redirect her loving hands to rub my arms. Who knows? I might even save some money on salon waxing!

So how do you measure love?

-Meena Sankaran


நாகு (Nagu) said...

Good one, Meena. Now I am raking my brains. Definitely in bytes. In bytes of comments I receive for my posts!!!


Sriram V Iyer said...

Meena, I would surely bet everything I have to call you philosophical.

Here's why:
1. It requires extreme humility to say that I don't know stuff when you know them very well. (for e.g., the quote you used off your head)

2. To see Love in action and people

3. To share the thought in such a wonderful way! I could *see* Sahana blowing kisses and Arthi rubbing your head.

4. Humor is indeed a form of Love :-) [People can contest, but it is IMHO]

You are truly blessed to come out with such thoughts, penning them and sharing it with us.

And, needless to mention your father is one of the finest Gentlemen and one of the noblest souls (so is your Periappa!) - I can imagine how much you three would have been influenced by these two people when you grew up. It clearly shows!

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

@ Nagu: //In bytes of comments I receive for my posts!!!//

How is that going for you? As a fellow blogger, I must congratulate you on your courage for measuring love with the bytes of comments you receive for your posts. I would be afraid. :-))

@ Sriram: Thank you for enjoying all my attempts at humor regardless of their quality. I can't agree more with you about my dad and uncle being the finest of gentlemen and the best-est(is there such a word?) of men I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

My hope is that I am at least half as good and honorable as both of them.

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to leave a comment for this post from the time I read it, but was too overwhelmed with various emotions to phrase them adequately. First and foremost, I thank you heartily, Meena, for putting me back in touch with my priceless inheritance. I've been chanting to myself ever since I read this post, the words of Gray, indelibly impressed in our memories through our father, for whom it was not simply poetry but the way of life. It was the staple food we were brought up on. Any adolescent vanity over looks was profoundly set right with the words (I quote my dad here),"What kind of master craftsman He must be to provide such variety in a radius of 5 cms. His art should be praised; what is our contribution in attaining this form, so what are we proud of?" Whatever little wisdom I can boast of (my choice of verb, in itself, is an affront to his nature)is my legacy from him. How easily I get mired in the frivolous concerns and cutthroatism for survival in this liferace? Thanks for reminding me of the invaluable lessons taught to us by a man who led his life accordingly. Dad, you belong to a very rare, almost extinct creed of people with such incredible humility, integrity and honesty. My salutes to you. Way to go Meena for such a fine post. I want to end this with our dad's rendition of Gray once again:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty and all that wealth ever gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour, The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Awesome tribute to Appa Krithika. I can actually see Appa shaking his head in disapproval for putting him under the spotlight like this but that is appa for you. :-) Like you said, he is truly one of kind.

As one who is forever emotionally constipated, I find it much easier to say 'I love you Appa' or 'I appreciate all that you have done for us Appa' in writing than face to face.

Appa, if you are reading this, know that I am proud to be your daughter and will strive to be worthy of that.

(Ok,enough of that mushy stuff now, folks. It won't do my image any good to bawl my eyes out in public like this. I am at risk of alienating my kids too so enough already.)

Prashanti said...

May you become bald soon... before you are all riled up, let me clarify this. As girls move through teenage, the love seems to disappear at least 'outwardly' - so consider my wish a blessing. As for me, I have trouble dealing with the epidemic of hugs in this country. Our family was not the huggy showy type but all my friends do it and tried to do it to me too... must have felt like a cardboard box, stiff and all.. they don't anymore and i want to shout 'hallelujah' from a mountain top!
Kudos to Mama for raising you so well that you all feel so blessed to have him as your dad. I hope I do half as decent as him.

Srilatha said...

A lump in my throat and tears in my eyes- I can say no more..

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

@Prashanti - I have made a decision thanks to you. I am going to kneel and pray for baldness every night starting today.

//I have trouble dealing with the epidemic of hugs in this country.//

LOL...I know exactly what you mean.

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

@ Srilatha: :-))