Prince in Ivory Tower

“Dad, I will be home soon.” My daughter’s voice was saying said in a cajolingly tone, over the phone. “Give the phone to my son.”

Anshu sulkily grabbed the handset and listened for a while, then disconnected.

Usually I was long gone by this hour for my evening walk. But, the nanny was down with fever and resting. She was not supposed to even come near Anshu, as she could ‘give’ him the bug; so I had to stay and look after Anshu, until his mother returned from her kitty party. Anyway, the rain that was pouring down made a walk impossible!

Anshu was my grandson.

Fat boy

An adorable, but moody child. Roly-poly, a curly mop of hair falling on his forehead, but now his face was a thundercloud of impatience. I knew that a big tantrum was coming.

“Anshu. Shall I put on the TV? That movie of winged creatures?” I tentatively asked.

A decisive shake of the head.

How to distract him, I wondered desperately.

“A computer game?”  I thought that a game on that gadget would please him. I had seen him play games on it.

“No!”

I could have played cards with him ( and let him win). But I was not not sure if Anshu even had a pack of cards!

“Carrom khelna hai, Anshu?” He looked puzzled. Probably never played this game.  I was relieved, I was actually rather poor at carom.

In truth, the room was strewn with gadgets of all sizes, shapes and capabilities, but which failed to engage his interest beyond a few hours.  Anshu’s parents bought these at an alarming rate to keep his boredom at bay.

In our day, we stayed out and played so much that that our mother had to screech out our name from the entrance of our tiny home and warn us of dire consequences if we did not show up. And even then, we would trudge in reluctantly. During the holidays, the morning would start with a game of badminton in the yard, the shuttlecock, as sorry-looking thing after repeated battering. This was followed by a game of cricket till the heat made us dizzy ( or a broken window scattered us). Then, carom or chess in someone’s home. Evening were for football . Playing till we could see the ball no more in the dark. Nights were for lolling on the terrace and counting the stars, telling ghost stories or whispering secrets.IMG_0480

Anshu never stepped out to play anywhere in the open. He would sometimes have friends who came over to play, but with a prior appointment and each of them would be tagged by a nanny, who watched over her respective “baba” or “baby” with the diligence due to the Kohinoor diamond.

My grandson was a healthy child, but according to his nanny, everything, from the food he ate to the water of his swimming pool was scrutinised and agonised over.  He had an hour of different classes everyday-Music Class, Gym Class-whatever that was and some more. Teachers and coaches were perpetually trooping in and out.

Long ago, I had decided to not interfere with my grandchildren’s upbringing, but today something moved within me, as I watched Anshu staring longingly at the terrace.  It was raining heavily outside. He seemed fascinated by the play of the water raining down…the little rivulets after they hit the glass.

 

happyknappy

“Has this child ever played on the wet grass?” I wondered. “Has he ever felt the rain on his face?”  The penthouse apartment was centrally airconditioned, with the windows completely closed. Even his school was supposedly airconditioned.

On impulse, I jiggled with the latch and opened the door. A gust of wind blew in a few drops of rain and peppered the child’s face. Anshu gurgled with joy, revealing the little energetic boy that he could be. He cupped a hand to collect the raindrops. Anshu and I stood there together for a while, savouring the experience. Anshu, feeling the thrill of the rain and I, the satisfaction of having given him some real pleasure.

A screech behind us. “Anshu will fall ill!”

My daughter stood there, a heap of shopping bags at her feet.

A change came over Anshu. From a broad smile of welcome for his mother, he suddenly grew sullen.

“Off for a hot bath, Anshu.” She said.

I sighed. I knew that I was in her bad books, but what the hell! That kid needed to breathe and play and feel, I thought.

The rain had stopped. I stepped out for a walk, trying to postpone the earful that I would surely get from my daughter.

A chawl that was nearby had its entrance dotted with shallow puddles.

As I neared, I caught sight of some children launching paper boats in the puddles, shouting gleefully.

A completely drenched kid ran up and gave his exasperated mother a hug.

“Aai, my boat won the race.”

He continued, “And…a cockroach was struggling to get out of the water. I rescued it on a piece of paper and carried it to a dry place.”

Such joy with so little!

I surveyed the radiant face. And thought, Anshu had so much, but the simple pleasures of childhood and the innocent joy of doing silly things. Would he ever have them?

This is an entry for the #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest . 

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Aaj kal ke bachhe- A Roller Coaster Ride!

It’s been a while since I was a fulltime parent (my son is twenty-one), but recalling it is like a reading a good book for the second time; you find nuances and twists that had escaped you the first time around!

Today’s generation faces challenges that are unique.

  • Parents grapple with a hectic schedule…. schoolbus, classes, tiffintime, homework, projects!!!….Planning healthy meals, sulks and tantrums, rationing internet time (especially in the pubertal years), teenage rebellion.
  • Children have to deal with exams, puberty, playground bullying, hormones and acne, makeup and piercings (and perhaps tattoos), infatuation and puppy love, academic disasters ……..Phew! They are smack in the middle of a mad, mad whirl.
  • But let’s not forget the  smiles, chuckles, love, pride, hilarity, warmth, affection and hugs as well,  that makes it all worthwhile.

By jesadaphorn

Although the term creates the image of an ‘aunty’, saying “Ye Aajkal ke Bache!” with a twist of her lips, her tone carrying matronly incomprehension and old world sarcasm, just how different are Aajkal ke bachhe???

PARENTS ARE OLDER AND EARN MORE – If first-time parents used to be in their early twenties earlier, the urban trend seems to be shifting to the late twenties and thirties. Which means a rather huge generation gap! Incomes are higher, so spending is more on schooling, food, clothes, coaching, holidays.

Consequently we have brand-conscious kids who are used to spending amounts that would have been the monthly income of a family a couple of generations back.

Single kid or just two; so less sharing and more goodies to go around.

Staurt miles Freegitalphotos

Parents are also focused on their progeny with an intensity that is often rather disturbing.

I recently overheard two women discussing their kids’ schooling in the supermarket, their trolleys braked mid-shop. Thirty to forty minutes later, they were still there, oblivious to everything, still discussing…..you guessed it…..their kids. Get a Life, moms!

THEY ARE VERSATILE– Thanks to everyone being a Tiger Mom, kids these days learn a sport, a hobby (painting, music and so on), are involved in other extracurricular activities (debates, oration, etc). If one skill needs them to be still, the next demands energetic running all over. These kids  have schedules that rival a CEO’s.

studies-a burden?

studies-a burden?

THEY ASK QUESTIONS– lots and lots of them and expect honest answers.

ID-10067091

They are irreverent and it is not uncommon for a very young child to question the logic of or to defy a parent’s decision. The person answering the query better buck up and think fast….Even “I don’t know.” is better than a fib.

David Castillo Dominici

Upon seeing a pregnant woman, I had to quickly answer some questions posed by our three-year and said that a baby was removed by cutting open mommy’s tummy. My bachha demanded to see my scar immediately! I had had a normal delivery and thus, had no scar. Consequently I had to mumble a retraction. Taught me a lesson, it did!

THEY LISTEN AND REMEMBER –

by Sujin Jetkasettakorn.

They are bombarded with information from many sources (television, internet, books, peers)! And absorb it rather fast.

I remember the time a match fixing controversy was all over the news. Our five-year old was certainly paying attention because when he was asked in school, “Do you know who takes decisions in a cricket match?”, he loudly answered “Bookie” instead of “umpire”. ( the teacher must have wondered about us for sure!)

Another time, after watching an anti-smoking campaign as a six-year-old, I had to face an irate neighbor because our son went up to him and said, “You will die of cancer, if you don’t stop smoking!”

When a friend complained about sweaty feet making it difficult to wear shoes, my nine-year old nephew innocently advised, “Why not slip in a sanitary pad into your shoes…they are supposed to be rather absorbent!”

THEY ADAPT AND ADJUST– Actually they do this far better than we imagine or give them credit for. From the age of three years, our son knew that when ‘baba’ (dad) was operating on a patient or busy in the clinic, he could not be disturbed with a phone call, unless it was an emergency. When I had to leave for an emergency case, my little one would wave goodbye. He instinctively knew not to make demands, when we were tired after a day’s work. He appeared for his tenth grade prelims a day after my father passed away, never once asking or demanding my presence in the days that followed.

SEXUALITY– Kids now are savvier about sex and sexuality. An old aunt was once lamenting the fact that her wish for grandchildren was being thwarted as her son showed no signs of getting married, when a cheeky twelve-year-old kid piped up, “He could give you grandkids without getting married, you know!”

Corn kiss

TECHSAVVY– “I don’t give my kid parenting advice anymore….he has an app for that!” A parent is supposed to have said. Aaj kal ke bachhe are born with some gizmo in their hands, it seems.

Witthaya Phonsawat

The cut umbilical cord is replaced by a gadget-thingy, to which upgrades are available before you can say ‘techno’, which they seem to master easy as breathing and to which they remain attached throughout life. ‘When stuck with techno-gadgets, ask your kid!’ is the Modern Mantra.

Just a few generations back, we were the Aajkal ke bachhe ….frustrating our parents, yet ultimately making them proud; challenging the norm and pushing the envelope, changing things…..raising the bar for the next generation in many ways. Naturally, the bachhe we have had the good fortune of parenting will be true to tradition and do the same.

.baby fist mother

                                         

#This blogger contest is supported by Kid Social Shell, a unique digital parenting platform with 11 gaming-learning apps. Use it play 3D nursery rhymes, counting number games, shapes games, fun math worksheets, coloring games and more!

Images from FreeDigitalPhotos- By Jesadaphorn, Stuart Miles, Ambro,  David Castillo Dominici, Twobee, Sujin Jetkasettakorn, Withaya Phonsawat,

A short story- about a child’ dilemma solved as an adult- Titled : There Is None More Blind

http://www.womensweb.in/2014/03/march-muse-of-the-month-3/

When someone you love dearly is faced with the same dilemma that you faced as child, to what lengths can one go to protect a loved one?

Here’s the story-

The hearse bearing the corpse of the deceased man is en route to his residence. The mourners have no corpse to wail over, yet. Instead, they gather in the garden and talk; the grave voices and hushed tones belied by underlying eagerness. Recent snippets, juicy gossip and long forgotten bits of information are rehashed.

They are oblivious to the murderer, who with a posture of grief and the mourner’s uniform of white clothes and dark glasses blends in. With a flash of humor, the murderer, a recent Harry Potter fan, compares the disguise to Harry’s invisibility cloak.

The first bunch of ‘mourners’ are discussing the accident. No one pays attention to the eavesdropping figure of the murderer.

“A two-wheeler accident? Why take that old two wheeler to the temple, when he had the cars?”

“Arrey yaar! An old habit….some relic of his hand-to mouth days, the same vehicle and same temple. A superstition of his, this weekly visit.”

“But the heavy vehicles on that steep road and that rickety moped; asking for trouble, you know!!!”

The murderer walks away, thinking, “So far, so good. As yet, no news of the brakes being tampered with. Should hopefully stay that way. That crash course in the workings of two-wheelers was worth it.”

One of the groups is all women; so it is domestic gossip.

“According to my husband, the son is a no-good.”

“With a dominating father, what else can happen?”

“But that daughter-in-law is smart and ambitious, not letting anything stand in her way. She will take over the business empire, mark my words.”

“Has anyone seen that nerdy daughter? She is back after her divorce, I heard.”

“Wonder what she looks like? No friends or anything, she always had her nose in her books.”

“Not seen here in the last five years; since her marriage, in fact. Last month, she just comes back, bag and baggage, from that God-forsaken town where she was staying.”

“Hmm… I heard that her husband alleged non-consummation or something like that.”

“Ya…So, no children, either.” Someone cruelly giggles.

“Wonder what really happened. A mystery….”

The voices trail away as the murderer walks away, thinking, “Mystery? Her father had been sexually abusing his daughter since she was four. Can the daughter ever have a normal marriage? ”

Wandering through the rooms of the mansion, the murderer watches the dead man’s daughter-in-law. Her innermost ambition realised prematurely, she has happily assumed the mantle of matriarch. ‘Well predicted, ladies’, the murderer thinks!! ‘The compromises that she has made for this ambition will be a secret forever.’

The murderer walks towards the granddaughter’s room and quietly enters. A room littered with too many toys and pretty, costly things; designed to hide lack of concern, and excess of pain.

Like the room of the dead man’s daughter, twenty years ago.

Two similar fates, twenty years apart. The daughter, perhaps his first victim and the granddaughter, certainly, his last. Both related by blood to a ruthless man, who preyed upon them.

Ignored by the rest of the family, who turned a blind eye to the facts, for their own reasons; greed, ambition, fear of the man or just apathy?

There is none more blind than those who do not wish to see!

The murderer feels a surge of anger and grief. Anger for a terrible injustice. Grief for a life ruined.

No one had intervened when the man had abused his own daughter all those years ago.

No.

As history seemed determined to repeat itself, however, the murderer has intervened.

The man’s death has freed his granddaughter from the shadow of his predation. Unfettered by dark memories, the world would be her oyster.

The little girl looks up at the murderer and asks,“Is he really gone forever, Atyaa (aunty)?”

“Yes!”

The murderer continues in a whisper, almost inaudibly, “I will have to squeeze out a few tears. I am his daughter, after all. It is the last act that I will have to put on for him.”

The dead man’s daughter gently touches her niece’s hair. A gesture of protection; one of the few times in many years that she has willingly touched another person.

As she does so, she notices the stain of vehicle grease from brake-tampering, on her fingers. Lady Macbeth with a twist, she thinks. She does not wash her hands, preferring to treat them like a badge of triumph. Lifting her fingers to her face, she takes a deep breath and smells their greasy odour. Ah, even the perfumes of Arabia could not have smelled sweeter.

Today, the world holds infinite possibilities. Carpe` diem.

Aloud, she says, “I could read a Harry Potter book to you, while we wait. Today, I will truly relish the vanquishing of old enemies.”

 

 

INDRA NOOYI And Her MOTHER- Some Comments

When Pepsico President Indra Nooyi comments on something, the whole world, esp women sit up and listen, then discuss it animatedly. The comments were dissected and pored over, criticized and agonized over, the import of her meaning was shredded….in every possible portal-from the print to news media , forums for women and every other possible place.

This is my little bit of contribution to the conversation.

http://www.womensweb.in/2014/07/of-a-million-indra-nooyis-and-their-mothers/

A Play review- Chhapa Kaata- Human Relationships -strong and delicate

Reviewed this play for Mumbai Theatre Guide.

A great play, wonderful performances.

I felt that the story seemed plausible, that of a clingy widowed mother not letting her daughter move out or move on.

http://www.mumbaitheatreguide.com/dramas/reviews/18-marathi-play-review-chapa-kata.asp

Reema Lgoo and Mukta Barve …..