The blurb ob by blob...

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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Little Pleasures

~Watching your son pick up a palm frond and seeing the smile that spreads across his face.

~Watching your little one pick up a feather and seeing the smile that spreads across his face.

~Watching both your boys hug each other and feeling that smile spread across your face.

Yeh Lazy, Lazy Sunday

Imagine if you will, two very podgy women (chubby is kind, fat is rude) who look much like each other, lying down side by side on a large wrough-iron bed, lazing a late Sunday afternoon away. A tiny little, wiry, curly-haired golliwog, gets up on the bed, bottle in hand, finds a sliver of space in-between these two women, plonks himself down and starts drinking his evening snack. Each woman takes a tiny leg in her hand and starts playing with the little foot and tiny, adorable toes. The little scamp revels in the attention and lays there, relaxed, happy and sucking on the bottle long-after the milk is over and the bottle is practically sun-scorched dry.

An young, pretty woman with long-dark hair who helps take care of the little boy with twinkling stars in his eyes, stands there and asks for the bottle. A thought crosses his mind, he smiles mischievously and throws her the bottle, saying 'Cashe'. Caught unawares, the young woman stretches out her arms, but of course the teeny-tiny tot can't throw hard enough and so the bottle lands on the older woman's nose. There are looks and loud exclamations of surprise. The little boy's mouth forms an 'O' and he quickly covers it with his two soft, baby hands and waits to be chastised. When that moment passes, he gives a nervous giggle of relief, turns to the younger of the two women, snuggles into her neck and laughs. She turns, lifts him up, plops him down on her chest and holds him tight.

She looks over at her mother, who is watching her with her grandson and they share a smile.

When I Grow Up...

On Friday, after I picked up the EO from school, we stopped to but some groceries for the coming week. The EO was walking along the aisles, engrossed in all the shiny packets and the stuff he recognised from the TV ads.

Suddenly, and very matter-of-factly, he tells me, "Mamma, aami jaani aami boro hoyey ki hote chai. Bhabchchi Shah Rukh Khan hawbo." (Mamma, I know what I want to be when I grow up. I'm thinking I'll be Shah Rukh Khan.)

This, in addition to Ben 10, Krishna, Red Power Ranger and Kung Fu Panda. You'd think I'd stop being surprised by now, but no, he still manages to stump me...everytime!
Whatever happened to 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor'? The closest the EO ever got to one of these is 'Chef' when he saw me whipping up an omlette, his most favourite thing to eat in the whole world.
My dreams for my two little ones? Well, aside from healthy and happy is that I'd like to see the EO become an Automobile Designer with a black-belt in karate and a couple of Olympic gold medals under his, um, belt. As for the YO, I would love him to be either a Marine Biologist or Environmentalist, plus ace swimmer and tennis player, the first India ever to win the Wimbeldon.
I can hear many of you siggering and I don't blame you. How can I, when the EO wants to be the Badshah of Bollywood and the YO looks all set to become Conan the Destroyer?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rock On Guys!

I have a new crush, guys! He's a sensational, director-turned-actor/rocker or is it rocker-actor? Anyways, whatever the tag, the latest guy to cause a flutter in the cardio section of this ageing, sagging, withering yet still-full-of sensation, emotion and feeling, body of mine, is Farhan Akhtar.

Ok, I have to admit, I did sit up and take notice after 'Dil Chahta Hai', but this was the first time that he was so in the spotlight. He and another hottie I've been slobbering over the last ten years, Arjun Rampal.

Now if you've been following this blog of mine, then you have quite correctly 'seen' me talk about quite a few of my celebrity heartbeats here. So as not to confuse you all, especially my new friends, the order of perfection goes thus:
  1. Johnny Deep
  2. Hritik Roshan
  3. Arjun Rampal
  4. Farhan Akhtar, the newest entry on my list
  5. Rahul Bose, now dislodged from #4
  6. Dr. Devi Shetty
  7. Bickram Ghosh

There are other minor crushes as well and I'm sure we all have them. But for me, these hunks are all my wow factors, my alcohol-on-an-empty-stomach buzz, my joint inspired high, my bhang induced haze.

And so, you can imagine what a drool-fest "Rock ON!" was for me. This is a movie where the protagonists are from my generation. They are my contemporaries and play the age that I am still floundering to come to terms with. The flashbacks keep moving from today to ten years ago, back and forth, and everything seems so relatable, so real, so lived-then, so living-now. The dialogues, the attitudes, the music are all comfortable and familiar.

I guess that's why I loved the movie so much, because I actually saw myself in it...and not just the fringes, but right in the middle of the beat, the pulse, all the action. Granted, I never led such a glamourous, exciting life and I still don't, but ten-twelve years ago, that was something I was more than willing to be a part of. It was a 'Euphoria' concert in Vasant Kunj...their pre-video days, and they sang mostly covers. But I still remember watching lead-singer Palash Se in action and going, "Mmm hmmm! Yum!"

The story of "Rock On!" is simple band of four boys headed for great things, clash of eos set them on different paths, choices and compromises with Life have been made, but personal demons need to be executed so that in the end, it can all come together and prove to us that no matter what, friendship and music can overcome anything and endure forever...and by forever, we do mean after death.

What makes this movie stand out and tall is the superb acting from everyone involved. And I mean this sincerely, not just because my sweet-cheeks and honey-buns are involved! ;D Purab Kohli, as the band's 'Killer Drummer', was thoroughly convincing as the still-young-at-heart, ready to rock it and party, rich businessman's dinkra. Luke Kenny's under-stated acting went flawlessly with his character's personality and tragic secret. Arjun Rampal was Joe Mascarenhas, so effortlessly did he step into his character's shoes and bring out his angst. Seeing the sadness and intensity in his eyes makes you just want to crush him into your chest so that you can run your fingers through his gorgeous mane and go "There, there! Everything's going to be all right!" And what about a certain hit director who made his acting debut? A Mr. Farhan Akhtar? Well, it seems as if this role were written with him in mind. As the poetic, carefree, spontaneous, good-looking, lead singer of the band Magik, you can't help but fall in love with him. Cut to today and in his present avtaar as a rich, sucessful, still good-looking, investment banker, he seems to have everything that life could possibly offer...except what really matters...a life! And he essays the personality shift convincingly, seamlessly.

And the women? Fabulous job, simply perfect! Sahana Goswami as Joe's faithful, loyal and battle-weary wife did a fantastic job, as did India's sweetheart and favourite bahu from the Balaji K-Factory, "Kasam Se's" Prachi Desai. Her love for her husband and eagerness to please him never, for even a moment, seemed either cloying or irritating. Instead, she makes us feel for her and empathize with her plight. So when things work out in her favour, we're actually heaving a huge sigh of relief, that this deserving girl got her due, as did Goswami's character. Loyalty, love and patience do not go unnoticed. Good message, good message.

And the music? Well, can we expect anything but perfection from the Ehsaan-Shankar-Loy stable? The music, like the movie rocks! There's even a ballad that makes you want to put yor ams aound your sweetie and gently sway to its tuneas you watch the rain falling outside the window. As for Farhan Akhtar's vocal prowess, suffice it to say that he'll never make a successful playback singer, but in this movie, his voice works.

So go out and see this movie. I'm going to go again. And I'm going to buy the OST. And I'm going to buy the DVD when it comes out. Why? Because I need to know, that no matter where life takes you, how old you are and what compromises you've had to make, you can still, Rock On!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Terms of Endearment

Chookooloonks. What a delightful sounding, fun-to-say word. And made all the more delightful by its meaning: it is a Trinidadian word of endearment for a child, meaning 'sweetheart', 'darling'. It is not used for adults, because the term also has the connotations 'little' and 'cute' attached to it.

I chanced upon it when I was looking for interesting blogs to read. And the name caught my attention. Yes, it's a mommy blog...full og great stories, anecdotes and pictures. Although it has been discontinued for quite a long while now, you can still go through all the earlier posts, which have thankfully been left intact.

The word got me thinking about all the terms of endearment we use for our babes and bobs. Not just the dictionary 'legitimised' and author-approved ones, but the ones we fondly make up as we go along.

I'm writing this particlar piece today, because I don't want to forget the words I use today, especially the ones I've made up. So here's a list of some of terms of endearment that I use for my little ones. I hope you'll all share yours with me too!

For the EO:

  • A******ku-poochisku-poochie-papa : I've twisted his 'good name' around to give it a nice, fun, onomatopaeic sound. The EO and always had a grand time with this one when he had started babbling and talking. During cuddle times and huggy moments, I would look into his eyes and start of, "A******ku-poochisku-poochie?" and he would complete it with a loud, elongated and excited "PAAAAAAAPAAAAAAA!!" And we'd collapse into a giggly mass of love and hugs!
  • A***-the-tinu-the-dinu-the-minu! : Would often say this with my hands on my hips using a mock-severe tone of voice. The EO would look into my eyes, zapped, see my smile and then hide his own smile with his two little hands!
  • My A***-pie : My variation of sweetie-pie and baby-pie, both of which I of course used and still do...yes, all three types of 'pies', even today!
  • My sweetie-peetie-pie : Another variation which is still strongly in use.
  • My coochie-poochie-pie : Another 'pie' filling.
  • Aamaar A*** shona : Translates from the Bengali to "My A*** darling!"
  • And a couplet which I made up for him right after he was born, which I recite for him till date, in a singsong voice --
    "Aamaar shona, aamaar baby, coochie-poochie-pie!
    Aamaar sweetheart, aamaar angel, apple of my eye!"

For the YO:

  • My cuddly bear, my teddy bear : Because he so reminded me of one when he was born.
  • My pug or puggy-buggy : His nose gave rise to that one!
  • My sweetie-peetie-pie : Yes, I use this for him too!
  • My coochie-poochie-pie : And this one as well!
  • Ghaanchuli-pooku-paka : No meaning, this one. Just random sounds, strung together. Guaranteed to get a chuckle and wide, ear-to-ear grin from the YO.
  • Shontuli-pooku-paka : ~ditto~
  • A short two liner for him:
    "Aamaar gattu-poochie taa!
    Aamaar shona-shona taa!"
  • Another two-liner, recited in a sing-song voice, just like the one above:
    "Aamaar A****** shonaa taa!
    Aamaar chhotto baby taa!"

I hope one day, they'll both read this, smile, get embarassed, blush and feel their hearts overflow with the love that I have for them! And the cherry on top? Well, if they modify these and the lullabies I wrote for them and use them for their own kids!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eating Arils

My boys were happily munching a shared pomegranate. I split the fruit in two, divided it, put the succulent seeds into two separate bowls and gave a bowl to each. They attacked their late-afternoon snack with great gusto and I noted with amusement, their different eating styles, which said a lot about their present stage of development, (or so I'd like think!)

The EO, picked up the fleshy, maroon seeds and popped them one by one, into his mouth. He must think this style a very grown-up way of eating individual units of small food items. He has probably seen his father, a grandparent or me, enjoy a snack of popcorn, nuts or puffed rice in this manner. So he wanted to relish his afternoon snack the way the grown-ups do. How sweet of him to remember it! How adorable of him to try it! And how very almost-five and all grown-up like!

The YO wanted to eat his juicy, luscious, translucent seeds with a spoon. He's growing up too... faster than the EO did when he was at this age! He wants to do everything himself! Especially when it comes to all matters relating to food and dining! I still need to feed the EO myself, otherwise I can guarantee you that we'll be spending two-hours-forty-five-minutes over a chicken leg and one helping of rice! The YO, on the other hand, shuns any kind of assisstance, loudly asserting his independence! Like he did, once again, this afternoon.

Oh! And did you know that the fleshy seed we eat, such as pomegranate seeds, are called arils? I wanted to be absolutely sure before writing this post, that I wasn't making an ignoramous of my self by using the term 'pomegranate seeds'. I'm not, and even though 'pomegranate arils' sounds terribly erudite, it's also a bit show-offy! So, I'll stick to calling them 'pomegranate seeds', thank you very much...except in the title of this post, of course! ;p

A new word learnt! My boys do teach me much, don't they?

My Oscar Acceptance Speech...

And I would like to thank, with all my heart and word-dripping soul Abha, who I fondly call my namesake, for this award! I am a feedback junkie, so to have my words read, validated and awarded...yes sirree, I am a happy Mamma! Thak you Abha, my dear, for thinking me worthy!

Here goes the rules for this award;
This award is for blogs whose content and/or design are brilliant as well as creative.
The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

And now to pass on the torch:-
1) The Mad Momma: Yes, I know she has recently received this, but there was no way I could make this list without having her on it. She is an inspiration to me and I want everyone to know it!
2) Ratna Rajaiah: She is funny, wise and absolutely bloody brilliant! An absolute must read for those who like intelligent humour.
3) Shankari : A gentle woman whose wisdom and stories either inspire a smile or a thought for the day...and often both!
4) Monidipa Mondal : I love poetry. And this amazing young poetess takes my breath away. I just wish she would post more often!
5) Dr. Preeti Sharma : I know Abha picked her as well, but she HAS to have a spot on my list as well. Here's a little poem in her honour:
Her dental administrations
Often provide much of her inspiration!
A long lost friend, refound,
She never ceases to astound!
6) Fictional Desi : She's absolutely new to the blogging world and has but a few posts to her credit. In the spirit of which this award was intended, i.e. to promote brilliant writing, I happily place her on my list. I really think she is a new voice to look out for!
7) Still Thinking : An earnest writer who has things to say and share, and doesn't shy away from doing so. I award this to her as a huge thumbs-up and never-ending encouragement!

And there are so many mommies with blogs out there who make me laugh, nod in agreement and take my breath away. Like Noon, Mystic and A Muser. You women simply rock! You do, you do, you do and therfore you are nos. 8, 9 and 10! And, not to promote an about-to-be-released movie this Friday, but ROCK ON!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Growing Pains

Well, it's done. The YO's admission process into a Montessori is now officially over. I can now relax and cry in the dark.

It just seems like yesterday that I was screaming at my anasthetist (who also happened to be my gynaec's wife) for having the gall to tell me so cheerfully that I had just had another boy! I was supposed to be having a daughter this time round, I already had the EO! God, how stupid I was...I still cringe at the memory! Because babies are so much smarter than you! It took me less than two days to fall endlessly, madly and devotedly in love with my new little, pug-nosed teddy bear!

It seems just like yesterday that I drove home with him settled in my arms, sleeping contentedly, unaware that a big brother was waiting excitedly for him at home and that the next day was Diwali. So while centuries ago, a city was celebrating the return of an exiled son, a prince, back home, we were welcoming our son, our little one, into our home, our life.

It seems just like yesterday that he started crawling and was full of glee beacuse of it, after all, it meant that he could follow his big brother and cousin-brother all over the fast as his hands and knees would allow him!

It seems just like yesterday when he had started losing all his hair, revealing bald patches all over his head making for a very worried, borderline-hysterical Mamma! And now, I can't get enough of running my fingers through his over-long curls, which I know, will soon have to go. So until the scissors arrive, just one more time, a few more curls!

It seems just like yesterday when he discovered his land legs and soon became an ace sprinter...and then climber...and then jumper...and eventually heart-attack inducer, grey-hair giver! Olympics 2024, anyone?

It seems just like yesterday when he learnt to say 'dada' and he would say it over and over again and again, following the object of his adoration all over the place! 'Baba' and 'Mama' soon followed suit and we couldn't get enough of it then, we can't get enough of it now! More words followed and it soon became clear what his favourite word was 'bikki!' (biscuit) and that hasn't's still his favourite word!

It seems just like yesterday when he had his first bite of milky, melty chocolate and just scrunched up his little face in initial disgust thinking “wtf?!?” as he normally did and still does whenever he tastes anything new. Then the eyes flew open with a different kind of “WTF?!?” look, the eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, the lip-smacking started. Yes! Another chocoholic had been born… created…fashioned…what have you.

It seems just like yesterday that he took his first plane ride. To Chennai. We stayed with the MIM’s cousin and his family and my two boys had a blast with their cousins! However,it was the airport and plane journey that fascinated him and much of it was due to the excitement and enthu that had rubbed off from the EO.

It seems just like yesterday that he was trying to do "Inthi Binthy", his fingers going in all kinds of different directions and then when not succeeding, coming to me all teary-eyed and entreating me tell him that little spider's story, complete with actions! My reward was always the same, a very toothy grin and a joyous chuckle, complete with claps and a loud "Bowwwwwww!" (meaning, "Wowwwwwww!")

It seems just like yesterday that he discovered the joys of music and started to boogie his little butt, ‘snapping’ his tiny little fingers and shaking his head wildly so that his mass of curls did a dance of their own!

It seems just like yesterday that I gave him a school bag to play with. It belonged to the EO, but he had outgrown it, so, like many other things before that bag and like many other things to come after, that bag was passed onto the YO. Needless to say, he was thrilled! He filled it with all his favourite toys and walked around the house, thinking he was like his big brother, thinking he was a big boy! The next morning, as I got ready to take the EO to school, the YO shrieked, ran to his room, grabbed the bag and a pair of 'going-out' shoes and stood before me, ready to go to school. The picture he made, standing there in his mismatched tee and shorts, oversized chappals, uncombed unruly hair and bag clutched fervently with both hands to his chest knocked me out of the ballpark and into space. It is one of my favourite 'memory snaps' and it seems that my heart clicked it only yesterday!

Sigh! It seems just like yesterday that my YO, my cuddly bear, my pug bug, my darling little one, was too young for school.

And now, in a couple of tomorrows, he'll turn two, spread his wings and soar!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Love Fights

Often I worry about the kind of relationship the Man I Married and I will share with our boys when they grow up. Based on our own ties with our parents.

The MIM and his dad are crazy about each other, absolutely, totally, no-bones-about-it crazy. Yet the verbal duels they have make the foundations of the entire apartment building quiver and shake, and the whole household cringe!

Maa-Janoni and I share, what can be termed as, a difficult relationship. We fight, say mean things, she often sends me on guilt-trips to the Land of Shame (yes! even at this age) and we stop speaking to each other, which just ends up prolonging my stay at above-mentioned Land. And yet, when it comes to parents, I have often said, that Daddy Dearest is my weakness while Maa-Janoni is my strength! Go figure!

And the MIM and I have brought these two distinct war styles into our marriage as well. He has a sharp, double-sided razor-edged, acid coated tongue while I have a map for the Land of Shame and an endless supply of one-way tickets with his name on them.

Why do these things have to be so difficult! Why can't it start and stop with loving each other and accepting each other warts, snorts, faults, snores, disgusting habits and all? I have often found that we are so forgiving of our friends...why not with our parents and spouse?

And when our children grow up, what earthquakes and heartaches can I expect then? A mother's soul is always forgiving, they say. Yet, sometimes when I reflect upon my own bad behaviour, the Bro's or the MIM's, I worry. When I see the stubbornness and uncompromising will of the Parents (my two, his two!), I shudder.

My boys are growing up. And along with all the joys come the fears as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Little Memory

I crept into bed between my two sleeping angels, looking forward to a nice, long sleep. The next day is Sunday after all, and I am at my parents' after all, so I can wake up late.

What is it that they say about 'the best laid plans'?

Well, whatever it is, at around 5.30 in the morning, I felt the tiny little body on my left, start to stir. The first few gulps of breath that would be needed to launch the discordant notes of an eardrum-shattering wail, had just been inhaled. My little boy, then turned to his right and saw his mother lying there trying very, very despeartely very hard to go back to sleep. He leapt towards me, excitedly and happily shrieking, "Mamma, Mamma!" and flopped down with a huge thud on my tummy, truly knocking the wind out of my sails. The then put his head down on my ample bosom, sighed contentedly and said, "MY MAMMA". After he had filled me from top to toe with the warmth of his love, he lifted his head, looked straight into my eyes, flashed me a radiant smile and said, "My Mamma, goo' mawneeng!"

Yes, it certainly seems like it's going to be a good morning today!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Crash, Clang, Smile!

Woman sitting at her laptop, staring at a blank screen, searching for the right words with which to pen a serious article. An angelic looking boy, around five-years old is sitting in front of her with a set of crayons and a new colouring book. Every now and then, her eyes stray to the colouring book and widen in horror when she sees the pretty pictures being massacred by merciless rough-handling and furious scribbling. She sighs and bites her tongue. At least she has some peace and quiet from this corner, this hurricane with chocolate coloured eyes and cherub smile!

But, there's another little tornado running amok, leaving destruction and chaos in his wake. She shakes her head and sighs some more. She should really learn to get by on an hour's worth of sleep everyday so that she can work uninterrupted in the dead of night when the hurricane and tornado are tucked into bed, gathering their new gusts of wind for the next day. Suddenly peace and quiet. She smiles and sets to work.

Poor fool of a woman! You'd think she would have learnt by now that 'kiddie silences' mean anything but 'Mamma relax time'! Anything but! In fact, the exact opposite, It means 'worry, Mamma, worry' accompanied by generous dollops of evil maniacal laughter.

Suddenly, there's a crashing and clanging sound. The sound of a steel plate coming into contact with a cold, marble floor. She can hear the plate spinning, spinning, spinning like a dizzying top until it finally comes to a metallic sounding halt. She knows where the sound originated from and what transpired to bring it crashing down. She shakes her head and (yes, say it with me...) sighs, and gets up to investigate, although she knows the sight she will be met with.

She enters the pooja room of her mother's impeccably neat and clean house, and stops in her tracks at the sight of a curly-haired little boy, his mouth crammed with all the raisins that had been laid out for the Gods, chewing away fast and furious with his tiny set of teeth. On seeing his mother, the little charmer gives her a huge smile, revealing a mooshed-up, gooey goop of raisins spread over his teeth. The smile is a mess and yet it starts to dance and play upon her heartstrings. The woman's eyes search for the musically-inclined plate that had been dropped, giving the little kishmish-chor away. She finds that it has been picked up by those two, chubby, grubby hands that she loves to kiss, and laid out again in front of the Gods...empty of course!

Her heart clicks a picture and the woman comes away from there, having resisted the urge to rush to the twinkle-eyed moppet, pick him up and crush him into her very soul. She's smiling, a great big smile and she knows the raisin-deprived Gods are doing the same!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sleep Deprived and Yet...

My boys, the Man I Married and I are shacking up with my parents for the time being since we are getting some woodwork done at our place. There, my boys sleep in their room, in a bunk bed. Here, the four of us sleep together on a huge wrought iron bed...and I love it, as do the three 'men' in my life.

The MIM and I each grab a little body and curl ourselves around it for the night. Blissful, but not perfect, because we all want more, don't we? So, we each stretch out an arm so that we can rest our hand upon the sleepy little head that is snuggled into the other parent's chest. Uncomfortable, did I hear you say? You bet! But the MIM and I go to sleep with a smile upon our lips, a baby close to heart and a warmth that can't be matter how hard I try.

So, this has been the scenario for the past ten days. Last night was no different, except that the EO seems to have caught a bug and to our absolute horror, at two in the morning, started throwing up in his sleep! The MIM and I immediately sprung to action, and the YO woke up in the process. Instead of wailing and screaming, he took one look at his beloved brother's face, realised the state he was in and was full of concern. He started repeating over and over again, just in case his father and I missed the fact, "Dada bomi koye diyechey!" (Dada's thrown up!) We took the EO to the bathroom, cleaned him up, changed the bedsheets and lay down, all four of us wide awake and in a very chatty mood.

Now I've been working overtime the last few nights, trying to get a couple of articles out of the way, waking up at 6.30 am everyday to get the EO ready for school, notwithstanding. And the MIM had to be up at 5.30 am because of a sudden trip to Puri. We had obviously decided not to send the EO to school, but we both needed the sleep. Desperately! But there was something so gratifying and wonderful about the four of us being awake together at the ungodly hour of 2am till 3.30 am. The YO dozed off twice in between, but woke up again to be a part of the family bonding time. It was a pleasure beyond compare, to have an 'intense' chat with the EO about school, superheroes, fast cars and the like, while the YO decided to entertain himself by rolling over each and every one of us, occasionaly stopping to flash us his pearly whites and emit a giggle of joy.

The MIM managed two hours of sleep before stumbling out of the house, red-eyed and bleary. I managed to crawl out of bed long enough to make him a cup oftea, before crawling back inbetween my two babies. Luckily Maa-Janoni and the ayah whisked them out of the room as soon as they woke up so that I could get a few more hours of shut-eye.

I'm awake now, but cranky, crabby and so sleep deprived my eyeballs hurt. And yet, when I listen hard enough, I can actually hear my heart humming.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh Johnny! I Love You More Than Ever!

An obscure little column in the paper caught my eye today. I looked it up on later to confirm it and yes, it was true. It said that actors Johnny Depp, Colin Farrel and Jude Law completed Heath Ledger's last movie, "The Imaginarium od Doctor Parnassus", and all three of them have decided to give their share of the money to Ledger's two-year old daughter, Matilda. The three DDFG (drop-dead f*****g gorgeous!) actors were concerned when they learnt that Ledger has passed away leaving behind an old will which hadn't been modified to secure the interests of his baby girl.

Now, first and foremost, let me get this out of the way, because it has to be said. Johnny Depp is my guy. He's my yum-yum. My ooh-la-la! Whenever I watch his movie or see a picture of him I get all goose-bumpy. He's the saliva on my doggy-like-tongue-hanging-out-on-a-hot-summer-day. He's the secret smile on my goofy, adoring face. He's the twinkle in my worshipful still-teenage-old-eye. He's the dhak-dhak of my unstoppably, rapidly beating heart.

And no, for all you people reading this and going 'Tut! Tut! A thought slut" or "Shame! Shame! Whore-y dame" (couldn't resist the rhymes, hehehe), I am not unfaithful to the Man I Married even in my thought processes. I don't have sexual fantasies about JD involving thongs, candles, juicy pieces of fruit, silk handkerchiefs and body chocolate. Where I am his Playboy bunny and he my Love Doctor. Nah. Nope. None of those. Mine involve the two of us sitting in a cosy room, with a view of rain clouds and lush greenery, where we read out books of poetry and passages of great prose to each other long into the starlit night. Sssssssiiiiiiiiiiigggggggghhhhhh! Imagine that! One entire evening of staring into those eyes with his undivided attention! Mmmmm hmmmm hmmmm! I just think he's incredibly amazing to look at and listen to. I mean, I would seriously be happy with a thinking, talking bust of his on my coffee table...something to ogle as well as share an interesting conversations with!

So, you can imagine how many times my heart must have flipped over in different directions when I read this bit of news. Three drool-worthy guys who are objects of female adoration and fantasy, and I know not all the women out there have daydreams as lame and tame as mine. And two of these gorgeous men have more than their fair share of bad press thanks to their temper tantrums, anger management issues and wild sexcapades. Right! So, they all have a lavish lifestyle...the kind that we mere mortals only dream about. These Hollywood and Bollywood types earn more money than they know what to do with and are often portrayed as being selfish pigs, with no heart, too much lust, hedonistic lifesyles and zero sensitivity. Unfortuntely, it's part and parcel of their profession. We all know the obscene amonts of money these guys make and we hardly hear anything about good causes, charity and the like. I'm not painting them all with the same brush, because occasionally we get to read about the AIDS awareness campaigns, the 'save the children' crusades, the 'going to Africa' missions, the 'raise money for cancer survivor' concerts, and what have you. But, come on, we get to hear more about who slept with whom, where and when and how many times and in which positions. We know about fights and brawls in the pubs. We read about the actor/actress who 'turned up late for a shoot, dead drunk and mean', yet they still got paid in the tune of millions. Then you get detailed reports about the 5th divorce and the ugly custody battle; you hear about the paparazzi whose face was used as a punching bag; the big car which mowed down innocents sleeping on a pavement; the tax evasions; the illegal hunting and shooting of animals...and we can't help but think, "What a filthy rich, disgustinly spoilt lot! B*****ds!"

And then you read about something like this. OMG, what a wonderfully kind, generous and loving act was this? No one asked them too, they just felt that it was the right thing to do for a little girl, growing up without a father and not protected by his will, due to his premature death.

What would have happened to little Matilda if these three hunks hadn't been around with her best interests at heart? Maybe nothing. Maybe things are fine (financially that is, the emotional loss of course is tremendous!) Maybe Matilda's mother, Michelle Williams, didn't have to move courts and run around trying to get her daughter a fair share of what should be her rightful inheritance. Maybe Ledger's beneficiaries will give, or have already given Matilda, a not unfair amount of money to ensure that she needn't worry about anything. I'd like to think that way.

But unfortunately we read and know about far too many instances of greed and property fights. Tales of brother-against-brother. Widowed daughters-in-law thrown out of the house without a cent. Aged mothers and fathers languishing in broken-down old-age homes. The girl child being denied any right to her father's property. We know about this. All of this. And it all serves to harden the heart of this cynic even further.

And then you read something wonderful like this. About three movie heroes, one of them the object of my affections, living up to the very word. And the core of that hardened heart, where hope and optimism still dwell, begins to beat faster.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Musical Notes

I love music. LOVE. Let me spell it out for you, I L-O-V-E M-U-S-I-C. I do. I just do. And I hope you get the picture.

So I can not begin to describe how much of a super-fantabulous source of joy it is to me that my EO loves music too. A ride in the car is incomplete if the radio is not on. Hehehe. It's thanks to the million-and-one FM stations that you could hear him mouthing divine phrases such as "Om Shanti Om" and "Hare Ram, Hare Ram, Hare Krishna Hare Ram" all day long. Just these lines, over and over again, like a stuck record (you remember what a record is, don't you?) Anyway, so here you have this adorable little scamp singing religious phrases all day long, much to the delight of the grandparents and the amusement of the parents, uncle and aunt. And I rememeber how a friend's cousin was embarrassed when years ago, her four-year old daughter was singing in a loud and clear voice, "Sexy, sexy, sexy mujhe log bole!" I gave thanks to Bollywood's plethora of music directors for composing music that had my son singing praises to the Gods above. And then, without so much as a warning, what should I suddenly hear from his pure little mouth? "Zara zara touch me, touch me, touch me! Zara zara kiss me, kiss me, kiss me!" Each word as Swarovski crystal clear as can be! In front of both sets of grandparents and class teachers. Oh why oh why, has the Earth stopped swallowing women whole? She can spit us out later, much later, after the embarrassment has long-passed and been forgotten.

But all that aside, the EO loves music, loves to sing. And I couldn't be happier.

The YO hadn't really shown that much of an interest. The occasional bum-wiggle to an ad jingle every now and then, but that was pretty much it. No prancing around to nursery rhymes, filmi geet or Rabindrasangeet. Until "Om Shanti Om" happened and like his elder brother, he was hooked. Whenever I sat down with my laptop where I have hundreds of songs stored, I would have to, HAVE TO, play the song first and close to a dozen times. While soon enough the song started to give me a headache, I loved it for the amount of joy it gave my little one. But, I wanted him to start appreciating other songs as well. No go! It was that or nothing. I tried so hard to get him to fall in love with my two current favourites..."Jashn-E-Baharaa" from "Jodha Akbar" and of course, "Kabhie Kabhie Aditi" from "Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Naa". But it just wasn't happening, so I gave up the lost cause with a heavy heart and resigned myself to a lifetime of 'hot girls putting up hands and cool boys making noise and saying Om Shanti Om.'


A couple of days ago, I was going out with my boys. The EO was on my lap, the YO on the ayah's. The radio was on (but of course) and the EO was singing along to all the familiar tunes whenever they played. Then they started to play "Jashn-E-Baharaa" and I suddenly saw my YO lean forward, smile at me, raise his right hand and attemp a snap in time to the music! Yaaaayyy! My heart swelled! It was so much more than the fact that he was enjoying the music. It was the fact that he recognised this song to be his Mamma's favourite and was sharing her joy as it played.

And just now, as I sat down to check my mails and my blog, putting my thoughts together so that I could write, my little one runs up to me, grabs hold of the dining table, stands on tiptoe and turns his endearing little face towards mine, eyes shining bright and says "Cobby cobby". My heart melted. I thought he was 'offering' me my morning cuppa coffee, since he knows that's the first thing I have and usually it's while I have the laptop open. I ruffled his hair, running my fingers through his silky curls and told him I'd have it later. He shook his sweet, little head and repeated himself, "Cobby cobby." I looked at him perplexed and then he pointed to my laptop. It then hit me! He wanted me to play "Kabhie Kabhie Aditi!"

I'm on the tenth replay right now and I'm pretty sure that this is something I can definitely live with!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Argh! My Eyes! My Eyes!

I saw ‘Brokeback Mountain’. Good movie. Definitely and without a doubt. Heath Ledger’s mumbling and muttering notwithstanding. However, I saw something in that movie which made it to my ‘things I wish I had never, EVER seen in my lifetime’ list. In fact, it gets top slot on my list. And I am talking about a mean list here. A list which has truck running over dog, The Bro puking on favorite sweater, The insides of EO’s foot as he sliced it open on a piece of glass and Chem teacher scratching his balls as top contenders on it. So what is it that I wish I had never ever seen? I wish I had never, ever seen Anne Hathaway’s breasts. This one is going to torment me for the rest of my life. Two round balls jangling over Jake Gyllenhal’s face as if she were a cow. A brief scene, but we get more than an eyeful nevertheless. Much, much more. Two much!

I mean come on, for heaven’s sake! We’re talking about the clutzy, adorable princess of the ‘Princess Diaries’ series. She somehow became enshrined in my mind forever as Mia. And then I saw this other super cute movie called ‘Ella Enchanted’. After that, I couldn’t imagine her in anything else besides sweet, adorable roles. Oh sweetness personified! She was born to do these roles. Ella, Mia, Anne…all one and the same person. These roles had to have been written with her in mind.

Okay, granted she’s an actress and that she needs to spread her wings and experiment with all sorts of roles, but can’t she experiment without shedding her clothes. I mean, COME ON!! Kissing and making out, yeah okay, if she absolutely must then why not. After all, didn't she get all slutty and tease-ey like in another all-time fave movie of mine? I'm talking about 'The Devil Wears Prada" and in it, there's this one scene where she takes off her top and shows off her sexy camisole to her boyfriend. Now that scene was darn cute! She was darn cute, the entire movie was gosh-darn-it cute! One of the rare cases where the movie was far superior to the book. Anyhoozee, as i was saying, Annie darling looked she had a grand ol' time kissing and going all smoochie-woochie. Which is okay, I can live with that. SHe can kiss all she wants, even use tongue if she simply has to. I promise I won't cringe. Buuuuut, having hot, sweaty sex. Hell no! And seeing her let it all hang out?!? God Almighty, nooooooooo! And she wanted to be a nun! Hah! That's right! Joining the convent was actually one of her career options! Pah hah hah!

That scene in "Brokeback Mountain" is as frightening as seeing a movie with Julie Andrews breasts jiggling about and horror of horrors, I believe that there is such a movie out there somewhere where she actually does indeed drop her top. I don’t ever want to see that movie, because if I do, I’ll have to pluck my eyes out with a spoon. Imagine. Our sweet, pristine Maria, who sings “My Favourite Things” with such conviction and to such perfection, that all her favourite things become your favourite things too, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, you have her topless! Actually, wait a minute. Don’t imagine that.

There has to be something ironic about this. Julie Andrews and her worthy successor, Anne Hathaway. Both radiating clutzy charm, sweetness and something so pure you can bask in it as it fills up your TV screen and reaches out and grabs you and envelops you in it from head to toe. Both who need to keep their boobs under layers and layers of clothes. And both who have horrified the prude in me so much, that I’ll probably carry this sense of horrification with me into my next life.

Out of the Mouths of Babes : II

Monsoon time and many homes in our city are attcked by armies of red ants. Now I hate, just HATE mosquoitoes, red ants, leeches and every other type of blood-sucker there is.

A whole big batallion had overrun the kitchen and were scurrying away with morsels of bread and roti. The EO tried to reach for a dabba of his favourite cookies, but I luckily caught his hand and told him that I would get it for him. I told him about the red ants, how much they just LOVE to bite people, especially sweet-smelling angels like him and his brother, and even showed him the long line of disciplined, but jaw-snappy soldiers in different sizes making thier way across the counter, carrying their burden of breadcrumbs upon their backs and scurrying into their hide-away.

We came and sat down at the table and my EO was ruminating on what he had just seen, munching away happily on a Shrewsberry biscuit. Suddenly, he turns to me and vehemently says, "Mamma, they doesn't bite the laal-laal pokaas (red-red bugs). They STINK!!"

I knew he meant 'sting', but I laughingly agreed to his version!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Flight No More

The EO was sitting at the dining table at my moms', enjoying a sumptuous weekend breakfast replete with all his favourite goodies...double-dimer omlette stuffed with cheese, hot buttery toast and chicken sausages. Chewing on his food, head resting against the back-rest of the chair, his eyes were sweeping over all the sights outside the window. I was sitting in such a manner, that the curtains were blocking my view of the great outdoors. I was looking at my beloved son's face, watching the way his eyes took everything in and wondering what was going on in that head of his.

As if responding to my silent thoughts, he suddenly exclaimed, "Mamma! One crow is taking one kite! O o'r bachchader jonno niye jachchey." (He's taking it home for his children!)

As always I was taken aback and so surprised at where his thought process had led him. His sweet, sensitive mind took the image he saw and painted a picture of family bonding...a recurring theme in his stories and something that he so cherishes.

I got up and stood beside him to get an eyeful. Unfortunately, the sight that met my eyes was one of absolute horror. It was a poor crow that had gotten itself entangled in the tattered remains of a kite and it's string, desperately trying to free itself. It was struggling and must have been doing so for a long, long while because already its' strength was failing and I could tellb that it was tired beyond belief. There was no way I could reach it and save it. I averted my eyes and didn't say a word.

The EO was soon distracted by something else that claimed his ever-wandering attention but I couldn't get the image out of my mind. I also kept thinking, about how we shield our children from the uncomfortable and disconcerting truths of life. I obviously did the right thing today in not pointing out the reality of the dying crow's plight to my innocent little kindergartener, but when should we break free of the Gautama-Buddha syndrome?

How long do we shield them? When is it the right time to talk about death and mortality? About sex? About 'good touch' and 'bad touch'? About the fact that the world is not always fair and pretty?

And how do we talk about it? How can we allow the innocence to fade from their eyes? How can we be an accomplice to it?

My son didn't know that neither that kite, nor that crow would ever take flight again. And I'm keeping it that way. Because for the time being, I want his innocence and childish imagination to soar...for just that little while longer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Love My India!

Today is India’s 61st Independence Day and I feel compelled to write about something fitting the spirit of the day. There are so many things I can write about…what freedom means to me, what the flag signifies, how I get goose pimples whenever I hear the national anthem, how the plight of our national animal saddens me, how stories of our great fight for freedom and the heroics of our martyrs like Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Khudiram Bose make my chest swell up with pride…I can go on, because there is much to talk about, much to feel.

I’ve chosen to write about something close to my heart…patriotism. And at the outset, let me say that it is an emotion that I find lacking not just in today’s youth, but in my generation as well.

Did you guys know that I’m an American citizen? Yes, born and raised there for the first decade of my life. However, my soul is as triranga as can be. I can give up the citizenship that I was born into at a minute’s notice…goodness knows I’ve been here long enough to qualify, not to mention that I’ve married an Indian citizen and given birth to two children here in this country. Yet, what stops me? What is it that has me running from pillar to post trying to secure a dual-citizenship, rather than giving one up altogether so that I can embrace another?

Because, somewhere deep inside of me, there’s a strain, a memory, a single grey cell that still owes allegiance to the American flag. The Pledge of Allegiance is one of the first things that a child is taught upon entering school. Five minutes after we’d settle down in class, a bell would ring and all the children in each and every classroom would stand up, place his/her right hand over his/her heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Every school day without fail. There were even special days, once a week, where we would dress up in the colours of the Stars and Stripes, get together for assembly, recite the Pledge and sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ in one voice and listen to speeches about how great ‘our’ country is. How much we understood at the ages of seven and eight, I don’t know, but they obviously made an impact for me to still hold on to mygolden, Bald Eagle embossed, bright blue-coloured passport.

Patriotism is not something that we are born with. It is not intrinsic to human nature and does not come to us innately. It is a feeling that has to be inculcated. Drilled in, driven in…gently and daily. And sadly, here in this country, it’s not.

The school I first studied in once we shifted base to India, one day woke up to the fact that we had not been taught the National Anthem. And shamefully this is almost two years after I had joined a school, which had already been in existence for three years before that. So for five years, a school carried on functioning without its children knowing the country’s most important song. Anyway, we were taught the song, rehearsed it a few times and then what? And then nothing. That was it. No weekly assemblies where the whole school got together to sing with pride, heck, we didn’t even sing it during special assemblies. We weren’t called in on 15th August for flag hoisting. We weren’t taught the words of our National Song or ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha’.

And the distressing bit is, that I later found out that my school wasn’t the only one to blame. Many, many, many, most schools across the country don’t think it important to teach tomorrow’s generation the songs that once roused our Nation to stand up and take a stand against Her foreign oppressors. We don’t have a daily prayer or pledge to our country, which can plant the seed of nationalistic pride and patriotism in our bloods from a very young age.

No wonder our brothers and sisters can leave this country behind without so much as a backwards glance. They don’t agonize over their decision to stay on in a country, which they were not born in. They settle down there, make themselves at home and when the time comes, give up the citizenship of their birth to adopt a new one.

Many, from my father’s generation, sneer at the thought of going back to a “country that has no future” and that’s “gone to the dogs”. When Maa-Janani took the incredibly difficult and life-altering decision to move back to India, two young kids in tow, while Daddy Dearest stayed on so that he could provide for us, many of her ‘friends’ started placing bets on how long she would last. Well, it’s been two decades and counting…and neither she, nor her daughter (i.e., yours truly!) have gone back.

I’m happy here. I truly am. Corruption and poverty notwithstanding. Traffic situation worsening. Female equality still not happening in its truest sense. And regardless of so many other things that get my goat so much so that it makes me want to scream out loud in frustration, I am happy here.

Nowhere else will my right to ‘belong’ be questioned. I am not looked upon with mistrust or distaste when I cross the street or go to shop. I watch “Legend of Bhagat Singh”, “Chak De India!” and “Lagaan” and I weep during so many different scenes that I finish up a tissue box. I sing “Dhonno Dhann-ey Pushpey Bhora” loudly and with all the great gusto that I can muster. I proudly declare that the ‘Mahabharata’ is the world’s finest, greatest and most complete epic (of course I can totally understand why the Greeks feel the same way about the ‘Odyssey’, but that’s another argument altogether). My eyes eagerly seek out the Indian contingent at the Olympics and when Bindra wins India her firs ever individual gold, I cheer and clap and cry.

So it saddens me that we, as a generation, lack patriotism. We need to recite a daily reminder that helps us realise that we belong to a country with a great past and heritage and a shining future looming ahead. We need to feel proud.

And it is achievable. We just need something, a verse, an oath, a poem, pledge, piece of prose... something, to help us achieve it. And it’s out there. I know it is.

I’ve heard it.

I remember, before I was bound tightly and inescapably by the ties of motherhood, I was working for one of the premier edutainment industries in the country. My job description had me visiting schools and addressing assemblies or classrooms.

I was invited to address an assembly in one of the Kendriya Vidyalayas in good ol’ Beantown. There, I heard and saw something that stoked the patriotic embers of my spirit. An important part of the daily ritual was an oath that all the children took, hand stretched out in front, voices as one and seriousness and absolute conviction writ large upon each and every face. I felt chills run up and down my spine and goose pimples prick me all over as I heard the moving and oh-so stirring pledge recited in front of me. I wondered why more children were not privy to this.

This is what each and every school across the country should include in their daily routine. This is what each and every child across the country should learn to recite on a daily basis. One day, they will all ultimately feel the power and beauty of those words.

And it the poetry and intensity of those words that will ground our children to their country. Give them roots. Give them strength. And most importantly, place the fierce spark of nationalistic pride in their hearts, mind, blood and soul.

To a more patriotic future. Happy 61st Independence Day!

Jai Hind!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain

It rained heavily a night ago while we were asleep. We had absolutely no idea and nothing seemed amiss when I woke up that morning to a grey sky so typical of the monsoon. Yes the trees did look greened and freshly bathed, but I thought it must have been an early morning, light drizzle. It was only when we reached the mid-stretch to school, going through one of the city's busiest areas, that I realised just how much it must have poured! The sidewalks were submerged and the wide roads were flooded with knee-deep water. The EO couldn't take his eyes off the road as we zoomed through the water, spraying water and having our windows vigourously splashed at and drenched by the passing cars. His silent awe was finally broken when he kept repeating, "This is awesome! This is awesome!" (I smiled at the Americanism, another little remnant of his beloved mamu's last visit.) I asked him, "What's so awesome?" Without taking his eyes off the road, "The water! It's here, there, everyewhere!"

Aah yes! The wonder of the rains! Nature's cleansing ritual. The season of choice for poets. A photographer's delight. A farmer's prayer answered. A river's rebirth. A child's divine entry pass to a state of unbridled joy and laughter!

The rain never fails to make my YO run to the window, excitedly exclaiming, "Biththee porchey, taapuu tuupuu!" (Translated from Babese to Bangla : "Brishti porchchey taapur tupur!", and from Bangla to English : "Rain is falling, pitter-patter!") And this restless little boy of mine, who's been born with a set of invisible wheels attached to the soles of his feet, actually becomes still and silent, his little pug-nose pressed against the window, body straining to join the dance outside. Every now and then, he'll take his eyes away, look into mine and give me a gorgeous, toothy grim, pointing outside to share with his Mamma the beauty of it all, while I heave a huge sigh of contentment as I drink in the sight of his pleasure.

The lure of the Rain is magnetic, powerful, cosmic. It's why the Nephew and the EO just couldn't hold themselves back at a city club last week, where a friend of mine dicided to take them out for tea, sandwiches and lots of running around. It suddenly started to drizzle, and she had the toughest time trying to restrain them, wishing for seatbelts on the club's lounge chairs. Even then, when her attentions were turned to one brat, the other one would leap out of the chair faster than you could say 'Jumping Jack Flash' and twirl round and round on the wet green, green grass. The pull of the raindrops and squelchy grass, too powerful to ignore. She said that they were having a blast, but she didn't want to return to us, two sneezy, soggy boys with red eyes and runny noses.

I love the rains too. Grey clouds and all. I think that Nature is at her most passionate during a raging thunderstorm. I think the Earth is at her freshest, most innocent best, after a cascading shower. I equate the rains to poetry. I can just sit near the window, watching the rains fall with a book of poetry in my hand. I can lose myself to the strains of Tagore's rainsongs playing in the background as the combination of cool wetness and music transport me to a state of bliss. I can allow myself to drown in words and churn out poetry myself.

And one of these days, I'm going to throw caution to the winds and my poetry books aside, to take my boys by the hands, and run outside to give the rains the proper welcome it so richly deserves!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Son, My Teacher

My Elder One (EO) is my teacher. He has taught me so much already in his young life. About love, patience, understanding, fear and so much more! And he continues to teach me, taking my breath away every time. Here are two anecdotes that I simply must share with you all...

Lesson #1 : About Forgiveness
Some time back, I was sitting dow with EO and making him write a few letters and numbers, but he just kept playing the fool and goofing off. Telling him nicely didn't work, nor did cajoling. Showing him how it was done, making it into a fun game, doing it to music were not working either. Finally the scolding happened, but even that failed to improve the situation. So I got up and stopped speaking to him while he prattled off his hundred questions. When he finally realised that he wasn't getting any response, he asked me why I wasn't saying anything. I just said, "I'm not speaking toyou now, I am really angry and upset and you know why". He quietly went off to do his own thing. Now you have to understand that EO is a huge chatterbox! I am talking 25 to the dozen, here! He can't sit still for a second with mouth closed. So the 'Silent Treatment' is pretty much akin to torture!
Soon it was time for lunch and I was making dosas, for him and my Daddy Dearest. He came and sat down.
EO : Mamma, you are making lunch today? (He loves it when I cook)
M*4 : Yes.
EO : What are you making?
M*4 : Dosas.
EO : Mmm. Yum. (Then, after eating a few bites) Thank you Mamma, for making me dosas.
M*4 : (visibly choked) You're welcome.
EO : And thank you also Mamma, for making for my Daduku also. (What he lovingly calls my Daddy Dearest)
EO : (visibly wonderstruck) ......speechless

I was so incredibly moved by my son and his words. Not only did he not carry a grudge, but he also had the sensitivity to thank me for making his grandfather lunch. I'm pretty sure he was still sad thanks to the 'silent treatment', but he was'big' enough to not let it hold him back from showering me with his appreciation.

I'm not like that, though I should be. I hold a PhD in the Art of Self Pity. I carry grudges and can't let go of feelings of having been wronged. 'Forgive and forget' is not a dictum I live by, and it saddens me, because I'd like to. I've tried, but it's too damn hard. But I should learn. From this adorable little boy, I should learn. For his sake. For his younger brother's sake. For their father's sake. And above all, for my own sake. It's time to let go of past hurts and wounds. I'm not a competitive person by nature, but in this game, I hope I kick ass!

Lesson #2 : About Living in the Moment and Loving it
For the EO, everything is his 'fraverit in the world'. (ie, favourite). If it's a toy he's eyeing at the toy store, he clutches it close to his chest and pleads for it by saying, "It's my fraverit toy in the world!" He has many such 'fraverit toys' languishing in his toy cupboard...headless, armless, armourless, wheel-less, headlight-less, door-less, and the Toy Gods alone know what else! (Hmm, I have to stop buying this line whenever we're out!)
If it's a restaurant that we are about to enter, "This is my fraverit restront in the world!" When I last checked, his 'fraverit restronts' were Pizza Hut, Mainland China, Flury's, Subway, McDonald's, Comics and the Food Court at a certain city mall.
The same goes for meals that I personally cook for him. "Mmm Mamma, this is my fraverit food in the world!" Whether it's mac & cheese, spaghetti bolognaise, baked fish, grilled fish, cheese omlette, even boiled corn with generous dollops of butter! When I put on that apron and enter the kitchen, I have an excited little boy following me in, eager to sample whatever 'delicacy' his mom serves his way and firmly declaring it to be his 'fraverit' even before he's tasted it, secure in the knowledge that Mamma's cooked it, it has to be his 'fraverit!'
When we're about to show him a new movie, whether it's on the TV, at the movie hall or on a hired DVD, "This is my fraverit movie in the world!", even before he's actually seen it! He spins off his own tale, after observing TV promos or studying the picture on the cover of the DVD and his mind wanders off to the wonderful world of imagination.

Everything in his life has been labelled 'fraverit'. And it's really something to observe him when he's busy pattling off one of his 'fraverit' speeches. Eyes bright, eyebrows disappearing into the shock of hair that flops onto his forehead, voice forceful with absolute and unwavering conviction, "This is my fraverit!" And you can't miss the earnestness and enthusiasm in his voice. It's impossible not to believe him, for what is there not to believe? He is living and loving the moment he is in. He is reveling in and acknowledging the great joy of that particular time that he happens to be a part of. He is sending out a message that he is happy to be where he is, who he's with, doing what he's doing.

I should be like him more. I should shoo some of my cynicism away and make a longer list of 'fraverit' things. Eat your heart out Julie Andrews!

But one thing I know for sure, the EO is my fraverit almost-five-year-old in the world!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lightning Love

It’s a stormy night,
my friend.
Let’s take a walk
through the black
and lose ourselves within it.

Look at the stars,
scattered through the sky
like flowers from a broken garland.

Look at the clouds,
drifting about aimlessly,
like lost ships at sea.

A distant rumble
comes rolling
from the insides of the sky’s belly.
The clouds are going to explode!

Oh, let’s stay awhile longer,
my friend.
I can feel the moon throbbing
and the night air trembling.

Let’s stay,
my friend.
Let’s stay
and get hit by the thunder
and drenched by the lightning.
We’ll let the rain fall
as it likes.

You’re smiling,
my friend.
Just as I knew you would.

I can love you,
my friend,
for you laugh
the laughs of old.

I can love you,
my friend,
for I now know
that you have not forgotten.

I will love you,
my friend,
because you make me want to.

in my heels,
in your tie,
we can be indifferent again.

Of Sense and Sensitivity

The EO is a sensitive boy. So sensitive he makes me cry. So sensitive that he makes me worry. So sensitive, that I stay up nights worrying about his survival in this cruel, cruel world.

When he first joined Montessori, he was just 2y and 1m old. The first week, the moms had to accompany their ‘babies’ and stay in class with them, to ease them in. The actual class had been divided into three different time slots, so that the first-timers could get the hang of the routine without too much of a crowd being around. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It was only for an hour and a half, and after the games, the songs, the puppet shows and tiffin break, class was over. The teachers (three per class and all of them PYTs), got down on their knees and said ‘Huggy time!’ Some kids hung back looking uncertain and ready to cry, some shuffled up shyly and some zoomed in at full speed! Yes, my EO was one of the zoomers. However, he didn’t stop there. With arms still outstretched, he turned to all of the mommies, squatting precariously on the six-inch high benches and approached each of them for a hug! To say they were zapped is of course an understatement, their eyes wide with a “What the..?” kind of a sentiment. But of course they all obliged, how could they not? Here’s this adorable boy with curls flopping onto his forehead and his big, chocolate coloured eyes full of love, offering a hug…just like that, no strings attached. Who could resist? The EO made sure he gave all the mommies a hug and didn’t miss out on anyone, finally stopping with me, his very own Mamma. I held him the closest and the longest, my whole body filled with light. At that moment, I could actually feel my heart cry a few tears, having witnessed the beautiful sight of a child’s innocence, sensitivity and love.

A few weeks ago, he was spending the night at my mom’s. I was out with my YO and the Man I Married had gone home early and was relaxing in bed. MIM called our EO to chat with him and our son asked his father what he was doing.
MIM: I’m lying down in bed.
EO: Where’s Mamma?
MIM: She’s gone out with your brother.
EO: You mean you’re all alone? Please go to your father right now!
How sensitive and perceptive for a not-yet-five-year-old to feel his beloved father’s 'aloneness’ and to try and remedy it! I walked in around ten-fifteen minutes later. MIM told me about the conversation. I was touched. I called up my EO to tell him that I’d come home, that I loved him and to say ‘Good night’. Before I could get a word in edge-wise, he started to scold me and said, “Mamma, please go home RIGHT NOW! Baba’s all alone.” After I reassured him that I was back home, we exchanged ‘good nights’ and ‘I love yous’ and I put down the phone, wondering where he gets this streak of innate sensitivity and goodness from? And more importantly, just how blessed am I?

These are just a two of a whole bunch of memories that I cherish. And they continuously serve to remind me how sensitive my EO is. My boy loves looking through albums at my mom's place. Each photograph comes attached with a story that Maa-Janoni is never too tired to tell, no matter how many times he may have heard it before. My boy frets, worries and cries whenever a loved one falls ill. If a classmate is being scolded, he rushes to his/her defence and if a friend is hurt and crying, he'll do everything in his power to make him/her feel better.

He's a friendly little chatterbox, my EO. Can't sit quiet for a minute. He makes friends wherever he goes, age, sex, class no bar. I can see people fall in love with him all the time. It's impossible not to respond to his eager eyes, open smile and delightful innocence. But, there are often times when children older than him, big boys of between the ages of seven to twelve, ignore him. I can see the hurt in his eyes and way his shoulders droop at the pain of having faced rejection. He either stares after them longingly, wanting to be included in their 'big boy games and chatter' and not understanding why he can't. Sometimes he runs back to me and buries his face into me, trying bravely not to cry. It takes every ounce of will-power to not get up and give those boys a piece of my mind.

But sometimes, I can't help but intervene. Like recently, when he was trying to make friends with a six-year-old boy in his karate class. The EO asked him twice, "What's your name?" The boy pointedly ignored him and all this is happening in front of me. The third time my son asked, he was rewarded for his troubles with a kick in the chest! Something in me snapped and I yelled at the boy, "How dare you? How dare you kick a boy who's younger than you and who was only trying to make friends with you? Haven't you been taught any manners?" The boy didn't even have the the grace to look shame-faced or say sorry. He just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Was I right to lose my cool? Could I have handled the situation better? I don't know. You tell me. But there was something so heartbreaking about the scene.

Which brings me back to my fear. How will my beautifully sensitive boy survive? Lately, the world has become full of ugliness and pettiness. Bullies rule, corruption and lies build the foundation of governments and there is no sense of fair-play anymore. Acts of charity and goodness go uncelebrated and people are so busy running after crores, that we don't value what's truly important anymore. So how do I shield him and his younger brother from it all? Or should I?

What do I teach them when they're getting hit or smacked around by other boys their age? Not to turn the other cheek, because I don't believe in that, but should they complain to an authority figure or learn to give back as good as they get?

Tell me, tell me how I should do this without jading their world view? For how long do I help them hold onto their innocence? And most importantly, how do I keep his sensitivity intact?

Tell me all you good people out there, am I making sense?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We Do What We Do

A friend's sister has composed a song for her soon to-be-teenaged daughter. I heard it yesterday and I bawled. And bawled. And bawled.

The perfect word to describe the song is 'beautiful'. Yes, there are other adjectives as well, such as 'touching', 'moving', 'overwhelming' and the like. But more than anything else, the song is terribly, hauntingly bee-you-tee-full!

But why did I cry? Beacuse that's what I do. Yes, I'm that girl. The girl who cries whenever she's moved. I cry when I miss my parents. I cry in bed at night if I've scolded the boys.I cry during chick flicks, Bollywood bichhre-huey-bhaiyyon-ke-milan-par movies and realistic Italian and Bengali art-house films. I cry whenever I feel overwhelmed by anything that is pure, raw, and movingly beautiful to the point of heartbreak. I cry when I hear a great song, a lovely piece of music and when I read.

And I cry at displays of the magnitude of motherhood. Because to me, nothing is more pure, raw and movingly beautiful to the point of heartbreak.

So when you have a nice mushy mixture of motherhood and melody? You've got a Mamma who's well and truly liquefied.

This song did that to me. Another song that starts the waterworks is 'Maa' from "Taare Zameen Par". These songs got it right. Spot on. Hit the Mamma on the head and in the heart.

I came away from my friends' with the song buzzing in my head and a strange, sadness in my heart. How easy it is for some mothers to show their children their love. Yes, of course we all do, with our words, hugs, cuddles and gestures. And our children reciprocate in their own wonderful ways. But how grand it must be to be able to do it in such creative ways! Some mothers compose songs and sing. Some write amazing books and blogs! Some paint paintings, make collages, fashion sculptures out of clay. Some document their childrens' lives in by writing it down in diaries, or typing it into an online journal or sometimes even by making videos. Some bake heart-shaped cookies and cupcakes with their little boys'/girls' names on top in icing! What do I do?

I know that my sons probably don't need me to do any of the above. Chasing after them pretending to be a witch so that they can run away screaming in hysterical delight probably gets the message across. Giving them that extra piece of chocolate once in a while should do the trick too. Singing lullabies at night helps as well, I think. Buying them an unexpected present, sneaking up behind them to surprise them with a bear hug, putting on the TV for their favourite cartoon, not to mention the endless "I love yous"...yeah, I'm sure my boys know. But what else?

And then I remembered. I write them poetry. And this blog.

And hopefully, they'll understand better.