Writings

Wandering, Withering, Widowing Words

There was a time when I believed in a god.

When I was a child I remember imagining a big man sitting in the clouds watching over all the humans. If things went right, we gave thanks to that man. If things went wrong, we said it was part of his plan.

I don’t remember when that visual entered my mind but I assume it had something to do with the media. I continued to believe there was a god, a male god, who just lived in the sky somewhere or whose presence was just part of the wind. I remember hearing words like, “why did god do this? how did he let this happen? why are people in the world starving yet others over eating? why is there poverty and war, etc etc etc?!”

I guess at some point I decided that human beings just needed someone or something to blame because they have no other answers for their questions. They were desperate.
I didn’t want to be desperate. I watched my mother pray every morning, before the sun was even up, my grandmother, my aunts. Praying, praying, praying. But their pain never went away. There was no one to take it away.

After I began questioning religion and why god had to be male and why we always blamed him for our suffering, I started to feel this connection to some sort of power in the universe. I started praying to the universe, to the sky, the stars, the galaxies. And at home, I continue to keep my paintings and portraits up of Guru Nanak, because He was an actual human being at one point who walked on this earth, and since childhood I felt a strong pull towards Him. Like He has always been a guardian in my life.

I’ve seen a lot of death. And I’m only 34 years old. When I was a small child, I knew about death because my mom often spoke about losing her mother at a young age and my father often spoke about losing his father at a young age. It was never too confusing to me, I guess I felt I just got it. They died.

When I was 19, I watched my 18 year old friend’s body be lowered into a grave. I saw the bodies of the parents my close friends lost. A few years ago I watched my mom’s only brother take his last breaths. He died right in front of us.

I always accepted it. And I listened when others said, “it was god’s will. It was in his plan. God works in mysterious ways. This is what god chose.” etc. etc. etc. etc.

I can’t anymore.

Three Mondays ago, I woke up feeling great. I texted Andrew, “good morning, how are you feeling?”

Still haven’t gotten his response.

My message was sent at 9:50am. He died 40 minutes later.

When I spoke to him the day before over the phone, I didn’t know it would be our last phone conversation.

People have been sending so many messages. So many phone calls. Flowers. Sending so much love. It’s been a blur. Like one really long day that just wouldn’t end.

I started to hear those words again, “god chose this.”

I keep quiet. Because that’s what I do. My anger, my pain, it brews in my body until my skin and bones can no longer contain it and it comes out of my fingers and onto this page.

Andrew was my co-worker, and then boyfriend, fiancé, husband, father of my children. We separated but never divorced. There were days I hated him and days I truly believed I could not live without him. That my heart would literally break without his love. During an argument one night in our condo, I actually threw a very heavy-framed wedding photo of us at him (I missed, fyi).

He was the first one to say, “I love you” when we were dating. He said it when he was leaving my apartment: got into his 350Z, put the window down and said, “you don’t have to say anything back, but – I love you.” And I just stared at him, like a moron.

Two days after he died was his 37th birthday.

37.

Not 73. He wasn’t old and grey and wrinkled. He was young and beautiful.
And he left behind two little humans who need him.

But god chose this. Right?

God chose this young father of two to just die one day. God chose for two sweet little girls to grow up without their daddy. God chose for their hearts to shatter.

Within the last 11 years, I’ve often thought about Andrew as a little boy — big radiant smile, and wished that we had known each other then and grown up together.

I didn’t get to grow up with him. Or grow old with him. My time with him was short. Only 11 years when I thought we had a lifetime. But I do get to see his little girls grow up.

He deserved to see that too. He deserved to see Annabella get as tall as him, one day towering over me and Talia. He deserved to see Talia become a teacher or a fashion designer. He deserved to walk them down the aisle and get through school and teach them how to drive.

He deserved to get old. I really wanted to see his thick head of hair turn into that distinguished salt and pepper.

But god chose this. No one knows why though. No one has that answer. But hey – we can blame a male-gendered entity up there in the clouds for taking my daughters’ daddy away.

Because we can’t fathom it. We cannot understand why one day he was right here, heart beating, and the next day – gone.

And now just ashes.

He isn’t here to tell the girls, “mommy is the captain of our ship.”

All I can feel in this moment is that our ship is sinking. And no spiritual entity, gendered or not, can stop it.
People think I’m strong. But it’s a lie. I’m in pieces. Broken and incomplete.

Was this all part of god’s plan?

Writings

Date Like a Mother

As DJ Khalid says, “and another one!”

I waited a full year before diving into the shark pool again. You know, the swiping and the messaging and the meeting. Then there’s the lying and the ghosting and the blocking.

Exhilarating stuff.

Once, this guy showed up high off his ass, wearing sunglasses indoors, jeans sliding down his non-existent waist. Inside of the RH Courtyard Cafe, he thought it’d be cool to take out his vape pen/stick/thing and start smoking around some very expensive furniture. He took out his phone to show me photos of his puppy and ended up showing me naked ones of his ex-girlfriend.

Ahh, the wonderful world of dating.

My marriage ended five years ago and because I’ve been a serial relationship-ist since the age of fifteen, I did not know how to exist as a single woman in her thirties, let alone as a single mother, who is also ostracized by the Indian/Punjabi/Sikh community.

Enter: terrifying dating apps.

No, dating is not what it once used to be.

I experienced love at first sight at fifteen, sitting on the couch at an Indian Aunty’s house, drinking tea with her and my mom, when her fifteen year old son walked in and we locked eyes. Of course, everyone labeled it “puppy love”, but we knew the authenticity of our feelings. And we assumed we would just be together for the rest of eternity.

Three years later I was accepted to a university four hours away from home. He asked me to stay. I didn’t. He married someone else.

Love happened to me two more times since; once with the boyfriend I had in university (whom I thought I would marry and I didn’t) and then with the man that I did end up marrying.

So, yes. Single. Thirties. Two Kids.

There was a small window that opened in which I saw myself finally settling down with someone. I even told my ex-husband about him. But it turned out he was cheating on me with one of my best friends who was cheating with him on her husband. Oh, and he “borrowed” thousands of dollars from me.

(Yes, you can definitely expect a novel about that one).

After my younger sister got married, I thought, “what the hell. It’s been a year. I’ve healed. This time will be better”, whilst love swirled in the air around me.

Nope. Nooooppeee.

Until….

I met Mr. Chivalrous himself: Prince Fucking Charming.

He held doors open for me. He looked into my eyes when I spoke. He complimented my accomplishments as a person, a woman, a mother, a writer. He told me how inspired he was by the many adversaries I’d overcome. He drove hundreds of kilometers just to give me a care package when I was sick (complete with Buckley’s, Thai soups and curries, a family-sized Nutella jar, chocolate, macaroons, cookies, a pink Orchid plant, etc). He paid for all our dinners and drinks because he thought it ungentlemanly of him not to. He always made the drive to make it easy on me. Brought a bottle of red wine with him. He laughed at all my jokes. We played a relationship card game called “Husbands and Wives.” He brought me roses, a balloon and a card on my birthday, because when he’d asked weeks earlier what an ideal birthday gift was, I said, “roses, balloons, and a birthday card.” He even made notes about what I need on my period! Finally, he asked me to be exclusive with him, wanting to see me more, wanting to know everything about me, wanting to get serious. I said yes. A week later he didn’t answer my phone call when he was supposed to meet with me. He said he was heading to Vancouver for work to deal with some issues.

You know. Work issues. It happens, right?

But, alas, Charming was not in Vancouver. He was in Toronto.

When I saw his Instagram story pop up on my dog’s IG and not on mine (I knew it was a good idea to have social media for pets) I texted him and … he blocked me.

And that, my friends, was that.

Swiping, messaging, meeting.
Lying, ghosting, blocking.
Dating.

Mind. Blown.

My news feeds are filled with couples posting their perfect photos and I don’t feel envy at what they share because there is no such thing as a perfect marriage or family. But I do, however, envy their unknowing of the vicious, bloody hunger games we singles call “the dating life.” They will always remember dating as something completely different. A courtship during high school. Meeting at a party. Office romance.

Not this.

My mother tells me not to question why this happened to me, but to ask myself, “what did I need to learn from this experience?” She also tells me I am worthy, I am kind and beautiful and wonderful. A good person who will one day be swept off her feet.

As much as I yearn for my daughters to see me being loved and respected by a partner, I fear that it will remain a dream. They are gonna grow up, move on with their lives and call each other every weekend to arrange who will be checking up on mom and all her random dogs.

Because there are a lot of cowards out there who don’t have the slightest clue how to date like a mother.

Anyone want a pink orchid?

Writings

Gratitude Journal

Why is it that when I sleep soundly, they are restless, yet when they sleep soundly, I’m wide awake?

I’m listening to my daughters’ light snores and even breathing, feeling at peace that they are next to each other, next to me. Several nights I tuck them into their own beds in their own bedroom, only to find them next to me in the middle of the night. But on other nights, like tonight, I do not fight their protests to sleeping in their own beds.

They don’t know this yet, but I need them more than they need me. Even when I do get a night when they let me sleep alone, I curl up to the same side of the bed, make myself small, and miss their small warm bodies sprawled next to me in deep slumber.

Just over two months ago, life was quite different. Parts of it, anyway. There were schedules and routines, timelines and curfews. Planned meals, packed lunches, pre-picked outfits. I only saw my daughters in the mornings for about an hour, and then in the evenings. On weekends there would be a hundred other things scheduled.

Now, we spend every moment together. Mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends, weekdays, everyday. Weekdays and weekends really have no border between them anymore. Its all the same. Some weeks have been delicious. So many cuddles, laughs, games, fun. Movies and baking and eating and dancing. Planting and walking and colouring. Other weeks have been torture. Sibling rivalry, yelling, crying, stomping, slamming. Needing space, solidarity, sanity.

Meanwhile, the world we’ve shut ourselves out of seems to have fallen into shambles. Sickness and death and panic and disorder. More death. Fear.

We’ve finally started going out again, other than just walking down our street. Driving the car again, although the brakes make sounds now, complaining to me that I waited too long to put them to use again. We wear masks, take shallow breaths and quick steps.

One thing has been constant, though. Our own form of medicine, comfort, cure. Which is our hugs and kisses. So many hugs. So many kisses. Maybe more so than before. Despite what has happened moments before, or what is happening outside our home, we tell each other, “I love you”, we kiss each other. We hug each other, tightly. Sometimes we don’t let go for a long time.

Writings

Not Hiring Single Moms

– “Upper management doesn’t care if you’re a single mother. What they care about is if you’re here, meeting business needs.”

– “I’m not telling this to put you down but you do have the highest number of absences in this office.”

– “Can’t you find a teenager in the neighborhood to watch your kids?”

– “You’ve already used your personal days to tend to your kids. Moving forward, you’ll need to use your vacation days.”

– “Why don’t you go live closer to your parents?”

– “You’ll need to make up the hours you missed when you left the office for your kids.”

– “It doesn’t matter that everyone else here is fresh out of school with no parenting responsibilities, I’m sure they have other responsibilities.”

– “No, we are not able to change your shift schedule.”

Photo courtesy of Tintalee Photography


The popular term ‘working mom’ is a redundant one. Being a mother is a job on it’s own. Annabella asked me about 15 mins ago, “is it hard being a mom?” It is. Of course it is. Being a mom to these two girls though? It’s a dream. Really, it is. I get them to myself for three weeks? Dream.

The quotes above were said to me directly, verbatim, during the times I struggled to be 100% present in the corporate world and 100% present for my children. What I learned was: it isn’t possible.

I often spent my rides on the TTC after having these conversations, sobbing, huddled into myself, wondering if I’d ever stop feeling like a failure. Until one morning I literally could not get out of bed because of the heaviness. I knew if I continued on like this, killing myself to get to an environment surrounded by negativity and uncompassionate behavior, that the light inside of me would burn out.

I chose motherhood. By choosing motherhood it meant also choosing myself. If I am mentally and emotionally unavailable for my children, being there physically is meaningless.

I had to evaluate myself, inside out, head to toe and decide to heal so my daughters can look at me without evaluation and say, “We love you mama. You’re the best.”

Tantrums, tears and tattle tales are rough, however feeling worthless is worse.

Writings

Beautiful Fear

July 11, 2018

Another writer from my workshop group told me she hated public speaking but promised her husband she would face her fear. She said, “you have to do it, Taneet!” And so we both wrote our names on the list.

Photo courtesy of Humber College (Lakeshore Campus)

So here I was, hair clinging to my forehead and neck with perspiration, heart pounding, pulse racing, hands shaking. I read a poem I had written at 3am several years prior.

And the words danced out of my mouth delicately, pirouetting en detours, completing a grand jeté before the timer rang. I kept my head down as I absorbed the applause, into my pores, into my veins, shocked that I shared dark words from my heart with award winning/critically acclaimed authors, my living inspirations.

Regardless of how shit scared I was, my words had a voice of their own that did not falter or tremble the way my fingers did. They were not just destined to be spoken. They were determined.

 

Writings

Dear Narcissist,

You must’ve celebrated your birthday yesterday because, well … how could you not? You’re a narcissist.

You didn’t send any wishes my way on my birthday. That’s okay. You gave me a much bigger gift: a realization. What did I realize? That you’re a thief because you literally and metaphorically stole from me? That you’re a pathological liar because you cannot keep your stories straight? That you’re unreliable because you never keep your promises? That you’re manipulative because you gaslight women? That you have a superiority complex because you refuse to respect any authoritative figures?

Nah. I already had those things figured out. You were so obvious with them. All of the signs. They were always there. I just chose to ignore them.

Your actions allowed me to realize that I am not a victim.

I learned that humans such as yourself (ones who constantly take) gravitate towards humans like me (ones who constantly give). A leech of your caliber will suck their prey dry and move on to the next. Often times, there is more than one person at a time that you mindfuck.

My realization allowed me to forgive myself for trusting you; for being vulnerable. Because it means that I was brave.

So – thank you for that.

Forgiving myself was nearly unbearable. But I did it. Forgiving you though? It’s currently out of the question. Maybe when justice has been served and you’ve been put in your place (the fiery pits of hell), I’ll consider it. Maybe when I’ve spread the word about you and so many others like you, to prevent innocent women from being denigrated the way I’ve been, I’ll consider forgiving you.

My birthday wish for you:

May you lose sleep over your corrupt lifestyle. May you lose your sense of entitlement. May you become educated. May you put the needs of your children before your own. May you admit to your wrongdoings. May you shed your many layers of facades and lies, finding peace in accepting who you truly are (the scum of the earth). May you gain a sense of work ethic. May you give back what you have taken.

Life is a temporary thing. That’s why I’ll never allow a narcissist into my life or my daughters’ lives again. You, too, should consider that our days are not promised and that life is not guaranteed. You can pretend and pretend until you die, but you aren’t fooling anyone but your slithering self. Riding on other people’s successes does not make you successful. Stealing money from others does not make you rich. Believing your own lies does not make you truthful. You gotta face your demons like everyone else on this earth does, and put an end to being a demon yourself.

Sincerely, the best thing that ever happened to you.

Writings

Storyteller

So happy to share a blurb about me from She Said Notes (a journal for the art-interested, the feminist-minded, curated to connect the unexpected) in a piece I wrote for them! Please check it out here

Taneet Grewal’s passion for storytelling began at the age of six with many fictional/magical characters. This grew into a love for journalism in post-secondary for human rights issues. Over the past few years, her writing has centralized on mental health, abuse, and support/empowerment for females of all ages. Currently, she’s working on a few long-term projects in creative non-fiction. For now, you can read her pieces here.

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Writings

Bedtime Conversations

Annabella: Mama, are you upset?

Me: No baby, I’m just tired.

Annabella: I really hope you get some rest!

Me: Thanks, Bella! If only there were two of me….(sighs)

Annabella: (eyes wide) Two of you!?

Me: Well, if I could make a clone of myself, I would.

Annabella: (giggling) You can’t do that!

Me: But then I wouldn’t be alone.

Annabella: You’re not alone, mama, you have US.

Me: (heart glowing) I know, my love. I just mean I need another grown up to help me out sometimes.

Annabella: (embracing me tightly) You don’t need anyone but us, mama.

Me: (heart glowing. tightens the embrace. doesn’t let go.)

Writings

My right to write

Dear readers,

Many thanks for your support and readership over the years. It means everything to me.

I created this blog for my two daughters one day when I was on maternity leave, and it has since grown into something more powerful than I could have ever anticipated.

As many writers and authors do, I use writing as a form of therapy and expression. It has always been a part of who I am and it always will be. Whether it’s simply to tell a story (fiction or not), voice an opinion, or share my deepest and darkest thoughts, my ability to write is my human right.

With my words, I have a voice, and I want my daughters to know they have voices too which should never be silenced.

It’s also important to me to bring awareness to stigmas and taboos surrounding mental illnesses and various forms of abuse. Over the past four years, several women have contacted me to either thank me for what I write or to ask for advice on their own situations. This proves that what I do does make a difference.

My words are not meant to offend, disrespect or shame anyone. My words are my truth. The intention behind this website is for my daughters to know they are capable of making the world better, and so is their mother.

Yours truly,

Taneet