Sunday, July 31, 2011

Questions are the creative acts of intelligence


There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men. - George Bernard Shaw

Some memories in random order...

  • I don’t remember exactly where we were… Nature called Mannat and we had no option but to ask her to sh*t in her diapers! We were not in a position to change her diapers and in a while the stink engulfed us. Surprisingly unaware Tammu crumples her nose, sports a filthy look, waves her hand in front of her nose to wade off the smell and says “Eta ki dando??” (Meaning what smell is this… ) Actually gandho in Bengali means smell and she pronounced it as Dando which sounded so funny along with her gesture.

  • We had recently gone to Bannerghatta National Park. While on the safari van, we spotted a lion. All the co-passengers where going ooh aah looking at a lion at an arms distance while Mannu asked her Baba “What is the lion doing Baba?” He told her that the lion was sleeping as it was actually lazily lying down. Inquisitive Mannu shoots back “Why doesn’t the lion have a pillow?” Abbas was caught unawares!

  • I keep narrating them some incidents of their childhood now and then when I’m lost for bed time stories. One such night while I was putting them to sleep, I was telling them how they would have all fruits in the form of juice as they did not have teeth then. Mannu innocently asks “Mamma, did we have tongue then?” This is what we call out of the box thinking!!!

  • Mannu has a habit of crying in situations when she doesn't get what she wants. There are times when we don't understand what she is trying to tell and she keeps on crying. We are thrown on tenterhooks when she throws such tantrums as we can't think of a solution when the problem statement is not clear. One such instance (when my patience was still intact), without knowing how to tackle her, I started singing!!! The song was "Rote kaiku hum? Hona hai jo ho, sad hote kaiku hum. Cry cry itna cry karte hain kaiku..." She suddenly started smiling and the battle was half won. After some time, for some silly reason Tammu started crying. When I inquired her why she was crying, she innocently said "Gaana bolo, mamma"

  • I downloaded this song unto my cell just in case I need it in crisis situations. One day when I played the whole song... Mannu asked me annoyedly "Mamma, why is uncle saying Tammu's name?" Puzzled, I played the song again to check whether there was 'Tamanna' mentioned anywhere in the song. When the song went 'Aisa kyun hota, jo hona hai so hota', Mannu whined again, "Mamma, uncle is saying again". Then I had my Eureka moment. Mannu addresses Tammu as "Taa" and each time she heard 'hota' in the song, she thought they were addressing her sister. Phew!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tales of Route# 8 Bus

I used to bring them along to work as they stayed at my office crèche all day. I got popular in the campus because of them. Many a times I have people smiling at me while I’m clueless as to who they are. Now I have got the hang of it and smile back at them. They were given identity cards along with lanyards and they would daily stop by the gate and look at the security guards, exhibit their ID cards and say “Unccccllllllle…. ID Card!!!” It was a welcome change for those people who have to check people’s ID cards only to bear their frowns and irritated reactions. They had befriended most of the employees travelling in my route’s bus. People would bring goodies for them daily evening. Mannat was very shy and clung to me initially. Tamanna was outgoing and she would get toffees / biscuits, she would confidently present her other palm and sweetly ask them “For Mannat?” and bring goodies for her sister. Gradually Mannu came to know that by being with Mommy, she is not at the profitable side. Hence, she decided to come out of her shell and began socializing. They would sing rhymes, hop from seat to seat, lap to lap, listen to songs, identify objects in newspapers and magazines, wear people’s accessories, pose for photoshoots… Those days were very memorable for all of us!

Quoting a few incidents from the daily bus journey here:
  • Deepa is the first bencher of our bus and initially my kids could recognize her only when she was seated in the bus. They would be confused when she greeted them in the campus! Tammu shares a strange bond with Deepa as in she would give a share of whatever she is eating to Deepa without second thoughts. I too never got that privilege! Deepa is the first one to get down from the bus and no matter where they are seated, they would stretch their necks, shoot their hands up in the air to say “Deepa aunty… Green chocolate!” Deepa would pleasantly smile with a nod assuring that she will get it for them the next day. And then history repeats itself the next day too.
  • Prabha got different names from them at different times. Starting off from Dabba aunty to Yabba aunty to Labba aunty! She is the only person who taught them ‘A for Orange’. They would trouble her to take off her accessories and make them wear those. They would then do a ramp walk in the aisle showing off to all the passengers. One day Tammu told me that “Mamma, Labba aunty doesn’t have a home na? She stays in the bus only” At first I wondered what made her say so. On pondering further I realized Prabha always got down after us and that was the reason Tammu assumed she was homeless! She conferred the titles ‘Tarle Timmi Tamanna’ and ‘Sundari Mannat’ to them which I believe will stay etched in their hearts for a long time to come.
  • They would address all men as uncles and women as aunties. Rishma did not like to be called Aunty. She told them that she was ‘Didi’ (as in sister) and they started calling her ‘Didi aunty’. After some days, she again taught them that she was not Didi Aunty but only Didi. After that they would address as ‘Not Didi Aunty, Only Didi’
  • There was a girl named Suganthi, they called her ‘Chunthi aunty’. She would draw for them in a notebook. One day they asked her to draw a rabbit. She was caught unawares and she told them that she would draw for them the next day. Poor girl, she went home, googled for rabbit sketches and learnt drawing one just for them. How sweet!!! My kids began demanding a new creature to be drawn daily…
  • There is Lamayya aunty, in whose presence I could relax by outsourcing them to be taken care of. She has truckloads of patience in entertaining all their demands. She would bring fruits for them, peel and feed them. She would play games with them, play songs for them. If she was held up with work and couldn’t leave office by 5, she would try to come to the bus just to see them, bid good bye and then go back to work! Unconditional love, I say!
  • We then have Devleena, who is called Debbina aunty. They knew each entity that existed in her carry bag. Daily they would bring out everything out of the bag and name it, put it back. Never did I see her getting irritated with the delicate scrutiny crucial that her bag underwent. She lovingly calls them Gublu… She taught them looking out of the window and exclaiming “Kitne saare uncle, kitne saare bike…”
  • Once, I had to stay back at office due to some important work and I caught the 7:15 bus. A guy was sitting besides us and was fondly looking at Mannu Tammu. All of a sudden, Tammu tightly hugged me possessively and stared at him with a stern expression and hissed “My Mamma!!!” The guy did not dare look in our direction after that.
  • A guy was being playful with Tammu and was showing her his ID card and mocking at her saying she did not have one. She immediately put her head and told him “My Juttu”!!! All people in the nearby seats burst out into a hearty laugh…

Since June, they have been going to school and Route#8 bus misses them. I sadly travel alone and have now started reading and listening to FM after almost a year!!! But their absence haunts me all the time. Just today while I was coming to office, I spotted a train, jumped in my seat and had almost exclaimed “Train!!!” but controlled my urge to do that… They have taught me to keep the child in me alive, appreciate simple things like watching birds, enjoying rain and many simple things which people tend to overlook in this busy mundane world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We’re glad, they are daughters

It’s hard to believe that even in today’s age, people still crave for sons, they still believe in the funda ‘Atleast a son’. People shower me with unnecessary sympathy when they learn that I have twin daughters “Tch tch, achhochho, Ayyo, Both daughters??? How good it would have been if it was one boy and one girl?” No thanks, I’m thankful to God he blessed me with 2 girls. And then some people cross their limits and ask “Won’t you try for a son again?” Excuse me??? Why should I discuss my family plans with you?! Some people are of the opinion that our “Vansh” (family name) will be extinct without a son. Vansh, my foot! What’s in a name after all? For me its one’s heart and behaviour that matters not his family name…

Abbas and I are elated to have both girls. How I love dressing them up, buying accessories, trying wide assortment of apparels, making them wear matching rubber bands, clips, bangles, bindis… It’s all so much fun. They also keep a watch on my accessories to check whether my bangles, ear rings are matching my dress or not. They help me in the kitchen; they pick their playthings and place them back before going to bed. (Well, I have trained them to do that, and would have done the same had it been a son. My daughter-in-law would have been lucky!!!) There are some things which they do without teaching them which give more pleasure. They massage my forehead when I say my head is aching! They pick my empty tea cup and keep it in the sink for me. Get a bottle of water for me and ask me not to get up when I am thirsty! They do naughty things, and I yell at them at times when they don’t listen to me. But I melt down as they rush to me and give a bear hug full of tears and say “Please don’t scold Mamma”…

A Dad is the first and the ever lasting man in a girl’s life. My dad was my first love and I always prayed I should get a husband just like him :-D. My daughters are also their daddy’s girls and Abbas thoroughly enjoys all the pampering he receives from Mantam. He craves to hear ‘Baba’ from them and is extra caring about his daughters. I wonder if he cared so much for me even during our courtship. He always worries about the men who will take his daughters away from him. Reminds me of the quote by Jim Bishop - “Watching your daughter being collected by her date feels like handing over a million dollar Stradivarius to a gorilla.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bhook Lagi Hai... Khana Do

‘My kid doesn’t eat’, ‘He is so fussy with food’, ‘She hates food’, ‘Feeding him is like winning a battle’… Do these lines sound familiar? I have heard these rants from many moms. But touch wood, I am not one among them. My kids had just begun throwing tantrums when I simply nipped it in the bud. They’d say they don’t wanna eat and I would say ‘That’s fine with me. It’s upto you’ I would rarely give them an option or an alternate choice if they rejected the food they were offered. Nothing drastic will happen to a child if he/she skips a meal. They will infact be hungry and would quickly gulp in whatever is served to them in the next meal. I might sound like a ‘CRUEL’ mother but then I don’t mind being one. Having said that, I would like to add to it that I do ask them what they like to eat and what they don’t. I try to make them enjoy their food, just the way I do. My excitement about food has been infectious enough for them to catch on! Every evening on the way back home, we have a wonderful tête-à-tête where they share their feedback of the food that was sent, along with requests for the next day’s menu. I love every bit of this conversation. I try my best to cater to their requests, in case I was not able to prepare what they had asked me to, I would confess to them apologetically and assure that I would make it up to them very soon. They happily agree.

Why I started writing all about food? It was a couple of months since they had started speaking words… the first ever sentence that Mannu framed must undisputedly be “Akhon ki khabo?” – Meaning “What do I eat now?” And she would shoot this question after completion of every meal just as I would heave a sigh thinking they were full. Baffled, we would ask her what she would want to eat and we would receive this question back. It has so happened that we served her 4-5 course meal and at the end she again says “Akhon ki khabo?”. There have been times when Abbas and I were completely at loss and he would only ask me “Seemu, are you related to Bakaasur by any chance?”

Tammu is not a food freak but she is not hard to please either. Only thing she doesn’t like in her food is onions. You give her a mouthful of food, with onions sneaked in. She has an uncanny knack of filtering that onion piece while gulping in rest of the food. Same goes with nuts! One more distinctive characteristic of hers is that she will stuff her mouth to its brim, as in she will shovel whole biscuits or most things whole rather than biting them and eating. She has it in her genes as Abbas does that too.

Now to conclude, I was a big time finicky eater. But not any more… People say that whatever troubles we have given our parents as children will come back to us in the form of our children. So far so good. Hope I will not join the club with moms of fussy eaters!!!