Category Archives: Daughters

I am not going to school.


(Adapted from a kid’s thought-diary, after her first day at school)

My sister is responsible. She, who lured me into the idea of going to school, seemed to enjoy a lot of privileges: a special dress called uniform, a large bag full of books, pencils and even coloured pencils, the freedom to use them anywhere according to her whims… School must be a wonderful place – that was the impression I was drawn into seeing her deeds and expressions. Oh, my God what a trap it was!

I had been eagerly waiting for the day on which I too would go to the magical place called school, like my sister.

The initial stages went on well. A new bag, a few colourful books and other stationery, lunch box – the day papa bought them just for me, I strutted around for my sister to see. (Pride goes before a fall!)

I had made two conditions to my parents about going to school. 1) I wanted to go to school in a bus. 2) My sister should be teaching me. In reality: I was made to walk to the school in the neighbourhood. And my sister was nowhere around!

Rest of my dreams got shattered, one after the other, the minute I stepped into the premises of the dull building. It didn’t take me much time to surmise that ‘school is an eccentric place not at all suitable for people like me!’ You too would agree if you consider the following facts about the place:

  • There are so many rooms but I am always asked to go to the same room. Wonder why I am denied the freedom to explore the other spaces! The rooms are all arranged in rows – looks really childish.
  • Throughout the day I have to be glued on to the same chair. You might know, at home I have never remained in the same spot continuously for more than two minutes.
  • The most awful part is the character called ‘teacher’. Her words are all Greek to me. Surely she can speak like my mother, but for  reasons unknown she abstains from that. If I stare into her eyes bewildered, she will repeat the same sounds, more loudly the second time. Stupid lady. Does she think I am deaf? The whole day she indulges in similar meaningless deeds.
  • I should write on the pages, and on the lines, and the way she prefers! At home I could even write on the walls (though my mother makes faces about it).
  • A lot of other children in the class scream their head off in the midst of their struggle to escape from that dreadful place. I don’t understand why they need to make so much fuss about it. Silly people! I have better plans. 😉
  • We usually eat when we feel hungry, right? However school has indigestible rules about that too. I should eat when I am not hungry, and when I really yearn for some food I have to remain hungry.
  • To ‘shooshoo’ I should make some funny signal to the teacher. (Don’t know why at school I felt the urge often. Yeah, honestly.) The teacher would then send me to a horrible aunty who does not seem happy to take the children to the toilet.

More such oddities are there.

Anyway, I have had enough. After a day at school I have picked up my first lessons in life:

  • Life, Reality – both are bitter!
  • There is no place like home!

So, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, come what may!

(Hope school won’t blow out the enthusiasm of our little ones.)

Their Grandparents’ House


My parents’ house is just an ordinary place as far as we
grown-ups are concerned. But for the kids who grew up in the artificial set ups
of the desert, even a blade of grass is a matter of wonder. Every nook and
corner offered them feast for their eyes. Let me take you along to some of
those scenes.

Giants in the neighbourhood:

For our neighbour, partitioning his property might have been
a big deal as he had many ‘giants’ to divide among his two sons. Now the sons
who live uphill and downhill have chained two of their elephants on to the
rubber trees in their plots. While the Trivandrum Zoo (at the State capital)
houses just one elephant often there were many around our house!

My kids were filled with awe to see them feed on the palm
leaves, the way they curled their trunks, the prize tusks, the fanning ears,
the heaps of elephant droppings, etc. The elephants were in an angry mood and
we could hear them trumpet unceasingly. I did feel sorry for them, though they
were taken good care of by their owners.

On our way back we spotted this millipede heading along. I
had a kind of aversion for such creatures, but don’t know why, recently I have
started admiring them. They are not jumpy like the crickets or the frogs, not
fluttering like the butterflies or the dragonflies – just cool and composed. Don’t
you think it is beautiful?

The nest:

The little humming birds (or better you name it) have been
the inhabitants of our place since my student days. Earlier they used to
construct their nest under the net above the well. When the drenching rains made the nest-making a risky affair, (once the nest almost fell) my father decided to guide them to a safer place under the eaves. He made all the necessary arrangements for the shifting and luckily the birds did not ignore the good intentions.

The windows of the drawing-room open to the live show of
their life and it was so peaceful watching it. The kids learned a few
practical lessons, more than what their EVS books offer.

Attending a wedding:

The last wedding I attended was eleven years ago where I acted
bride. Since then so many of my dear and near ones (including my sister) got
married but I missed every single one of them. This time I was in the thrill of
attending a cousin’s wedding.

The wedding ceremonies in the villages have not completely
lost their charm and above all their innocence. Everyone in the family will
have some role to play, making them feel an integral part of the ceremony, and
that is the beauty of the traditions.

On the eve of the wedding the brothers-in-law
(one being my husband) twisted the threads for the wedding knot. (For the first
time I got to know the concept behind pulling out exactly seven threads from
the wedding saree for this purpose.)

Another memorable event of the eve was a traditional
Christian dance performance, which reminded me of Kalarippayattu, the martial
art form of Kerala. The powerful Kerala culture permeates all our religious
functions – slight alterations are made just for the sake of giving them a
different identity.

(Idea stolen from my daughter’s holiday homework.) Moral of the blog: Now and then go through the assignments of your kids – you will get ideas to (blog)bore your readers.

Onam


(Yesterday, 9 September, Keralites celebrated Onam, the national festival of Kerala.)

It’s all about happiness. While many of the festivals segregate people on the basis of religion, Onam has no such bars, I believe. Onam was once celebrated in a
humble but jovial way by every Malayalee family. It used to be a perfect combination of the ingredients required to make an average human (of those days) happy – perfect weather, food (the extravaganza of vegetarian food), games, and other activities like singing and dancing…!

Times have changed. We prefer staying indoors hesitating to make Onam a reality.  Nowadays the ingredients mentioned above (except the first one) are accessible to us any time of the year. Onam has nothing special to offer; we find nothing thrilling in it. We are content with the virtual Onam, listening to what the celebrities say about Onam.

Thousands of miles away from the homeland we (affected by spells of nostalgia) managed to prepare a few Onam special dishes at home. Paradoxically, our relatives back there in the land of King Mahabali purchased the readymade Ona-sadhyas (meals). May be the captivating TV programmes do not let them waste their precious holiday in the kitchen. Times have changed (repeated, with a sigh)!

This Onam has touched me deeply. Early morning I got a call from my Uncle greeting us. It truly imbued me with bliss. I decided to pass on the surprise and bliss to some others other than my close relatives. The same pulses of joy were felt when I spoke to my old friend and my cousin (who I met recently after more than twenty years). They too might have spread this spirit of Onam to somebody unknown to me, I wish.

Simple gestures of affection are enough to brighten up and enliven even an ordinary day. Life is all about these little surprises and smiles – only that we store them for special occasions. Today somebody cared and bothered to express it. The latter deed made the difference. I feel buoyant and satisfied today. Let the feeling last forever – for me, for you and for them. Happy Onam – translated as pinnacle of happiness!

When the Home Sleeps


 “Don’t touch that!”

“Stop fighting!”

“Will you keep quiet for a minute?”

The parents with hyperactive kids cannot help asking such questions repeatedly. As long as the kids are awake they will be always after something – usually something that pesters or increases the work load of the mothers.

They start some kind of a game for which they scatter a whole sack of ‘what-they-call’ toys. After two minutes they lose interest in the game and switch over to a new one, with new ‘toys’, in another part of the house, orphaning the first set of toys.

It will be hardly ten minutes before you see them engaged in drawing or craft, preparing for a new collection of mess.

The games (most of them without any prescribed set of rules) always go beyond the expected levels. The game with building blocks may need a bucket of water – for an innovative game which they only know (may be they are building an underwater colony). The tent game will often end up in pulling down a whole shelf of books.

The culmination of the drawing game can be a whole wall of graffiti and the craft work can spread over to the bed spreads and sometimes even to the school books of the elder one.

Anyway, you cannot relax as long as your kids are at play because you could never predict what sort of transformation a game might undergo the next minute.

We worry and whine incessantly over these little issues. But will we be happy otherwise – if the house is shrouded in pin-drop silence and if things always stay in their place as if in a museum? No. I have that realization each time when one of the kids falls ill.

By the grace of God it happened very rarely all these years. When one kid is inactive the other too naturally withdraws. The sight of the toy-bags stowed away is traumatic. I feel the toys long for the kids’ touch – let it be loving or fatal. I long to see my little ones explore the cupboards for cookies. I ache to hear them shout and scream playfully. When they are away or silent, I feel deprived; I don’t have anything to do or anyone to shout at. This peace, this tranquillity is heart-rending.

My home sleeps.

Well, these are the moments we discover the real meaning of life and the futility of perfection. A house becomes a home only when there are kids to wake it up from sleep!

We are Sorry, Dear Dining Table…


 “All well-regulated families set apart an hour every morning for tea and bread and butter.”     – Joseph Addison

Ever since we started our life together we used to have our meals at the dining table. But after our latest toddler started exploring the magic world called the table top, we had to shift to the sofa with our plates. And that had been the practice for the last two years. I recently realized with shock that we were slowly getting deprived of the many little blessings of the family dining table.

Emotional disadvantages

  1. We could not see one another during our meals as our eyes were glued on to the TV.
  2. We missed the family discussions and there was no other occasion to listen to our elder daughter’s stories from school. Instead, we kept on commenting on the TV shows which have nothing to do with our lives.
  3. Whenever the kids talked or cried we felt disturbed.
  4. We could not teach them the proper table manners.
  5. Throughout the last two years our dining table lay in the corner, neglected.

Physical disadvantages

  1. Often we gobbled up food as we wanted to get the plates away and then come back to watch TV leisurely.
  2. During meals we had to shuttle between the hall and the kitchen (though the kitchen is not far away).
  3. Sometimes we ate more, and sometimes less.
  4. We often forgot to drink water after our meals.
  5. The sofa pullover had to be washed almost every week.

So, dear Dining Table,

We are turning to you, once again, after a fatal gap of two years. Though there is no way to have our ‘morning tea and bread and butter’ with you, we promise to join you for lunch and supper. Penance shall be done for being callous to you all these days. I know you are benevolent enough to forgive us, as you always had been.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” – Anthony Brandt

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”                     – George Bernard Shaw

We too want Heaven – here, now!

Today Nagging Worked – So Fast


I never keep buckets filled up with water. Reason – I am worried about my little mermaid. But two days back I had to fill up the huge bucket in the toilet after the water supply was disrupted for a whole day.

Since then one great fear had been bothering me day and night- what if she gets in while we are not noticing? The toilet had no lock on the outside. I started pestering my husband pouring out all my fears. Usually he keeps my requests in the freezer at least for a week. He kept on pacifying me saying: You are simply thinking too much; your worries are unfounded.

Surprisingly today (right on the second day of nagging, for the first time) he came home with a lock and he fitted it without even waiting for another day.

You know why?

The shocking news had reached his ears in the morning that the only daughter of Chithra – the most popular and adored playback singer of Kerala (India) – drowned in the swimming pool.

I got my job done.

 

A lock on my bathroom door is all I could do. I entrust God with the rest. God save our little ones!

Uncles on the Prowl


“Ma’m, I’m leaving the school,” the girl from grade four came into my room and stated this without any sort of introduction.
It did not surprise me in the least – just another one of those frequently heard statements in any private school around here where students keep on shifting schools for no reason. Still for the sake of asking I enquired the reason.
And the reply, a bit long narrative delivered nonchalantly by the pretty little girl, was listened to by me on tenterhooks!!
“Something unpleasant happened in our family,” said the girl and I told myself, “That’s it… someone ill or dead, or some usual permit issues.”
I was prejudiced.
“Last week my mother sent me out to buy something from the bakala (small shop) in our neighbourhood. There I met one …uncle (Here even children could identify the nationality seeing the outfits, but anyway that is irrelevant here). He told me he was my father’s friend and that he would take me home. I was even offered some sweets.”
At this point I couldn’t help interrupting her, “You knew him? Was he really your father’s friend?”
“No, even though I hesitated to go with him he insisted. He was talking very softly in a friendly manner.. I couldn’t refuse… thought it would be rude.”
“So you actually went out with him?”
By now the teacher and mother in me took over and started advising her at the wrong point, forgetting that the full story was not yet told.
The rest of the story seemed familiar like some scenes from those rare socially relevant films – the scenes which we watch with our hearts in our mouths.
“He took me to a dilapidated building nearby. At a distance in the premises of the building I saw some men having their food. But they did not notice us. May be that’s why he told me to remove my sandals, so as not to attract their attention. He made me walk into the building, barefooted. I was really scared and said I wanted to go home. He assured me he would take me back after sometime. That did not convince me and I started to cry. You know, he slapped me on my face and ordered me to keep quiet!! I couldn’t do that and I yelled. Luckily I heard the approaching footsteps – he too did. In a great hurry the man abandoned me and disappeared!”
I gave out a sigh of relief! Thank God for the courage You gave the girl to scream and for sending those men there!
I could sense every single moment of it, vicariously.
All through last part of the story I was praying although I knew it was all over. Concealing my anxiety was really hard. At last when I heard she was safe I couldn’t swallow it as such.
“But nothing happened, still why are you leaving?”
“My mother is upset and doesn’t want us to continue here anymore. She says we should go back to our country.”
Quite natural. I understand the mother. What else could she do after such an ordeal?
However, I just hope – let her decision serve the purpose; let it not turn futile. Let there be Guardian Angels to save each child in trouble, wherever they are, from the uncles lurking incognito – in all types of outfits!