You turned nine today. Nine. N.I.N.E.
Excuse me while I go sit in a corner, wonder at the 'how-in-the...' of it all, and weep at the 'where'd-the-time-flow?' of it all.
Nine years of absolute joy. A roller coaster ride. A stand-up comedy show. A life-time.
You've grown-up immensely in this past one year. You are still a book-loving, mythology munching, fantasy world inhabiting, little dude. You enjoy using big words...mispronouncing them often, but getting them right even more often. You enjoy prancing on stage (in fact, you revel in it). You enjoy your food and even have a little tummy-tum-tum to show for it. You appreciate sarcasm and even try to use your own brand. Your incredible brand of sensitivity. You day-dream about the movies you watch, the books you read and the stories you hear and you actually live with these characters in your head.
Sigh. You really, really, really are soooooo my son! The similarities we share make me want to go "Yahoo!" and do the junglee-dance from the roof-tops!
And then there are those similarities that scare me. That passion for what's right in this world and what's wrong. At the injustice of things. At the simple and absolute trust you place in people you love. Your contentment in having just a few good friends. Your need to be feted and appreciated.
These similarities that we share? Yes, these worry me. They worry me greatly.
Three stand-out memories from the year.
1) We were at Bagdogra Airport earlier this year, waiting to catch the flight back to Kolkata. As is my habit, I bought you, your brother and myself some books and magazines. I bought you four ACKs. One was about Tipu Sultan. When you read about the cruelty meted out to Tipu Sultan's children, you started sobbing in the airport; your body shook with rage and incredulity and you ket saying over and over again, "But they were children, mamma...CHILDREN!! How could anyone do that to CHILDREN?" Your father and I tried to comfort you as best as we could and finally I bought you another book, a Geronimo Stilton, to distract you. It worked like a charm, but you never forgot the question.
2) When you read the ACK about the Jalianwallah Bagh massacre. Once again the tears. The rage. The incomprehensible disbelief of it all. You read that ACK many, many times over trying to get the answers to your Why's, How's and How-could-they's yourself, because mine were all so damn unsatisfactory. You were convinced of the collective evil of the race that once ruled us and you couldn't stand to hear a word in their favour. A few weeks later, I chanced upon the ACK on Jim Corbett and bought you that, to show you that there were nice guys too. You didn't wholly buy it. In fact, you've even declared to MaaJanoni that if ever your baba and I are thinking of going to 'see the queen', then we'd have to go without you. Just a couple of weeks ago I tried to see if you'd changed your mind about that... Nope. You're stubborn. You're my son.
3) And finally, the one where you got stuck 15 feet above ground level, in an amusement park in a dark evening of Siliguri. We had gone to this park to while away a couple of hours. We did all the rides. And then we saw this harness attached to two 30-feet long poles strapped to a trampoline. The sign over there simply said "Bungee Jumping." You love your adventure 'sports'. Roller coasters. Hang-gliding. Rolling down a hill in a huge, transparent ball. You love them all. So obviously you had to go on this. The mechanism of this was simple enough. They strap you into the harness, you start jumping up and down on the trampoline and then, with the use of a remote control, they lift you higher and higher into the air, until you're about 12-15 feet above ground level, where they suspend you for about a minute or so, and then they bring you back down. You LOVED it! Your brother, not at all. You wanted a second go. We agreed. Just as you finished all your jumps and stretches and the guy holding the remote started lifting you higher into the air, we suddenly saw sparks flying from the remote. Then the whole thing burst into flames, the man dropped it, stamped upon it and then ran to the little shed to switch the entire contraption down. The only problem? You were suspended 15 feet in mid-air. Our hearts were in our mouths, but you! OMG!! You were beyond brave...you were in your elements. For twenty whole minutes, as those morons tried to figure out what to do, you kept not only us entertained, but all the visitors to the park as well. You were up there doing yoga poses, karate kicks and chanting Buddhist mantras. You helped your father and me keep calm and not lose our heads. A crowd gathered around and marveled at you. The YO was freaking out, shouting at the men to get his brother down NOW, but you were brilliant. The incident is not one that I would ever, EVER like a repeat performance of, but your sense of humour and your grip on calm was what took my breath away.
Yes. You're growing up. And how. It's not so easy having an argument with you anymore. You demand answers. Logical, easy-to-understand-and-accept answers, and unfortunately, I don't always have them. Luckily, I can still play The Mother Card and trump you any time, but I've got my fingers crossed as to how much longer I can keep using that. That, and using that incredible phrase that mothers have been using since time immemorial -- "Because I said so."
You started of this year wanting to be exactly the same things as you did last year -- viz. an actor, a guitarist and as the owner of an orphanage. For the first time in years, you've talked about a different career. You now want to be a secret agent, a spy. And you even have a top secret mission that you've entrusted to yourself, one which you hope will restore glory to your country. Adorable and oh-so serious at the same time. Such a big boy desire with grown-up rationale behind it.
And yet, that childish innocence of yours, that incredible sensitivity that thankfully reminds me of the fact that you still are my little boy. Those bone-crushing hugs and that gorgeous laugh that is more divine than the angel chorus. Those eyes that continuously harbour a dreamy, far-away look in them, an absolute give-away to the fact that you choose to inhabit an infinitely more interesting world than the mundane one in which you are trapped. No matter how old you get my son, I hope you always have this world to retreat to. A world populated by heroes and musicians and writers and story-tellers. And the wonderful bit here is that when you think of superheroes, it's not just Batman and Spiderman, but real life heroes like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Chandrashekhar Azad, Surya Sen. When you think of musicians, it's not just the Akon, but also Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury and Mozart and Beethovan.
Oh golly gee, my goodness gracious. You are adorable. And precious.
And you're mine.
And you're nine.
Love you, my darling big boy. In ways, words and manners that will never quite truly capture just how very much.