Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When Mamma falls sick

Mamma fell ill on Monday. She shivered and shivered till her nose all fell off, until Pappa put a questioning hand to her forehead to realise she was burning with high fever. Crocins were popped, the brat picked up and brought back home. Mamma doing her best, to keep him at a distance.

Mamma, he asked, noticing that Mamma was doing her best to keep herself away from him and that no hugging, kissing or head stroking was happening. Why yur angree wid me?

Mamma sniffled and assured him she was not angry with him, now would he please get out of her face.

Den wai yur crying and your noseys red?

I've got a cold and a fever baby, mamma told him, stay far away or you might catch it too, and we cant have the risk of you getting a fever.

Den wai yur nod laffing at me?

Mamma tried to explain that she was feeling too ill for any kind of levity, all she wanted to do was to curl up and die in some corner of the world.

The brat stroked mamma's hair and tut tutted and hugged mamma. Ger alright soon. Whu'll take me to the park?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Of the Sere-bum

I sat with the brat the other day to help him with his homework. The home work file was scarily heavy. Given that to complete one page with fill in the blanks has mamma at the point of tearing her remaining five strands off her scalp, not to mention a very sore voice box, which will subsequently need much honey ginger and warm water to get back to audible decibel levels at the earliest.

Mamma opened the Social Services book to be confronted by diagrams of various internal organs of the human body. The heart. The brain. The lungs. The intestines. Biology had never been a strength in mamma's school going days. The most telling memory of her biology class is mamma clean passing out when handed a scalpel and a frog, and needing to be heave hoisted to sick bay. Anyway. The brat was learning the internal organs and Mamma therefore, to be absolutely sure of what she would be imparting to the child, got the richly illustrated encyclopedia which would have bought her a half way decent luxury handbag at half price sale, and opened it up to the page where these rich illustrations of the internal organs could be viewed. The brat stared at them sceptically. The illustrations were in vivid crayola shades of pink and red, and even a plum. These were placed bang next to photographs of said internal organs which werent as colourful as the illustrations.

Mamma started, "Brat, this is the brain of a person."  Which purson? Is a dead peepul or a lively peepul? Mamma presumed it was taken when said owner of brain was dead, one doesnot expect a brain to be photographed in such exclusion of the cranium and to be still functional. "I think the person who owned it must be dead."
How dey took it out of the head bones? Mamma could see the conversation drifting towards slasher movie territory and quickly circumvented the discussion into how the doctors operated on said brain and removed it post the owner's demise.
Bud wai dey did dat! That dead peepul will get angry. Den dey'll become a bhoot and come to ask for their brain back.
The brat has obviously been watching random horror serials at unsupervised moments. Mamma asked him for the source of this information and he swore it came from an intense discussion in the park with other critters his age, one of whom had been told gruesome tales of bhoots and such like by his maid. Mamma pooh pooh the concept with adequate disdain hoping to convince the brat that bhoots dont exist and went back to the brain laid splat on the page. Mamma looked up the indicators and pointed confidently. This is the cerebrum and this is the cerebellum. This is the medulla oblongata. Mamma rattled off some spiel about the functions of each of these, the right and the left hemisphere and how they control the opposite parts of the body, the brain stem and the descent into the spinal cord, when she suddenly froze. She remembers doing parts of the brain much later, probably in the seventh or the eighth standard. When Biology was officially a subject. What is the hurry with teaching the kids words they cant even pronounce right now, she wondered?

She slowed down her pace. "Brat, do you know what the cerebrum does?" Te serebum doesnt do anyting? It just stays there in the head bone. Giving orders to eveyone. Like Pappa.

At least he got the concept right.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A books pahty?

On Saturday, a friend had her son's birthday party. At a children's bookstore. Luckily, the friend's son and the brat are the kind of pals who are guaranteed to raise Cain everytime they get together, so the brat didnt need much persuasion to get him to get over his natural reluctance to enter a bookstore, that too for a budday pahty.

The natural reluctance was also partly due to the fact that he knew there was going to be a right out party in the society premises thanks to the AGM being scheduled at around the same time. And to keep the parents peacefully debating the merits of a Rs 100 hike in parking maintenance, without being distracted by bawling offspring, a bouncy castle had been thoughtfully organised by the management. The thought of leaving the bouncy castle behind to go, to a bookstore was blasphemy. The brat literally spat the words out."I don wantu go, will be boreding."

He was hauled off by his collar. We reached the venue, a tiny cheerful place in Khar, called Treasure books. The front half of the store is a book selling zone, the room at the back is where the party was happening. And what a party it was. A handful of children. They got to paint their own tshirts with stencils. They saw a puppet show. They did some song and dance. The entire puppet show skit had Doraemon, the Power Puff Girls, Noddy and all their favourite cartoon characters. And no, no kids were killing each other from boredom. No DJ, no gameshost. No tattoo artist, no hair beading, none of the usual crap which has come to symbolise a birthday party these days.

He came home with a Tshirt he made himself, and the pride on his face could see us through a power outage in the night. If he could, he would have framed it and hung it up right at the entrance of the house. Everyone on the way up from the lobby to home was shown said Tshirt. And ofcourse, assorted books he picked up for himself from the display, which included Hulk story book, Ironman story book and Superman storybook, which we managed to read the first three pages of in the car on the way back before dozing off, tired with all the excitement.

"Brat, did you enjoy yourself," mamma asked.

He nodded enthusiastically. "Do you want a party like that for yourself?" Mamma asked. He thought long and hard.

And shook his head. "Nope. I want only dance pahty. Where eveybuddy will dance. I canna keep quietly for so long."

Monday, June 14, 2010

When friends come over

The monsoons have arrived in Mumbai with "all d thundering and lightning. Much to brat's disgust. He sat staring at the pouring skies with a scowl on his face.
He had finished his milk and his homework and it was now his usual time to go down to the park. The sky was showing no signs of letting up.
"Mamma, can I go down to play?"
Mamma indicated the rains with a gesture.
"Can I go down to play in the lobby?"
The lobby of the building we live in is often as wet at the compound and one has seen teeth being lost thanks to slipping on the wet marble thanks to insane running at top speeds, and therefore, the requeest was firmly denied.
"Den what I'll do?" said the brat plaintively, scowl still in place.
Mamma informed him that he had his books, his computer, his toys, his painting stuff, and therefore enough to occupy himself. And mamma had not yet mentioned television.
"I'm boredt. Whu I'll play with?"
Call your friends over home, mamma suggested, mourning the fact, that unlike her childhood when she was very happy to be left alone with a book to bury her nose in, the brat was the social kinds who needed an army of his four footers around to make his evening worth his while.
He traipsed off happily to the intercom and within the next five minutes rounded up his brigade of desperados. The bell began ringing incessantly two seconds later as a troop of six year olds filed in and simultaneously dived into the toy basket. Mamma got out the bowls of chocolate biscuits and wafers and buried her head in her book, and managed to complete three pages of a very gripping novel where everyone is cheating on their partner. Suddenly a loud crash, and sudden ensuing silence.
Mamma jumped up and ran to the brat's room. The entire contents of the toy basket lay overturned on the floor and all the mites looked on in horror, awaiting the yelling they were sure they were going to get. Mamma looked at the disaster all over the floor, and smiled. And asked them all to start tidying up and keeping the toys back in, and only playing with the toys they needed. And mamma stood and watched as they did so.
Once the room was clear, mamma moved back to her book and let them play in peace. Peace being a relative term since murder and mayhem seemed most audible. Finally, respective mothers of said children called and demanded their kids return home this very second, and tomorrow is school day etc. Mamma had all of them help the brat clear the room, put things back in place. Take their empty bowls and glasses into the kitchen and leave the room as spic and span as it was when they first entered.
As a particularly recalcitrant critter struggled against his natural instinct of leaving the mess be, he whined to the brat. "Next time, mere ghar aana. Wahan bacho ko kaam nahin karna padta hai!"
The brat gave him one dark look that would cut through steel.
"Arey, you is a beeg boy now. You hafftudu your own safai apne aap. Thats what beeg peepul do. If your mamma clears your room, dat means you is still a small chile."
Mamma smiled in evil manner from the shadows.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Does my child deserve this?

I reached school yesterday afternoon to find an 80 to 100 strong mob of flag waving activists of a recently branched out political party, yelling slogans and itching for action. As soon as the bell rang and the gates opened, they slapped and pushed aside the watchmen, pushed them aside and stormed inside the premises, breaking pots, glass panes and thoroughly vandalising the premises. The first lot of children were just about to run out of class, their teachers ran out and pulled them back before closing all the doors to the classrooms.

(See the child coming out of the school and confronted with the mob!!!)
It was scary. Damn scary. Our kids were inside, ready to run out of class and go home. For the little ones, the Grade one kids, it was their second day of school, they were still getting used to the concept of a full day school. Some of us parents rushed to plead with them to let the children come out safely. Some of us asked them if they even knew what they were protesting against. They didnt. All they knew is that a girl had been expelled. For this, they were putting at risk around 2000 confused and scared children in the school premises.

My knees were shaking in fear, my heart was thudding like jungle drum. I knew yesterday that I would throw myself in front of the mob before I let them enter the school building. I knew my baby was somewhere safe in the building but for how long. What guarantee the mob wouldnt go on a rampage and injure the children? We spoke to the leader of the mob, we told him that none of the parents had an issue with the school, to look at both sides of the story...he listened politely to us, assured us the children would not be harmed, and continued with the vandalising of property. I am fuming. I will not let my son be held hostage because of one parent's desire to be an activist and stay in the news.

For some background. The school had hiked the fees in 2008. A group of parents led by this mother had protested vociferously against the hike, leading morchas, dharnas, filing cases etc. (Which, I incidentally did not support, because at the end of the day, this is a private unaided school. If the fees are beyond you, you always have the option of moving your child out to a school which is within your budget). The spat between the school and this group got more vicious with the mother going ahead and filing FIRs against the school management saying they had threatened to harm her child and disfigure her by throwing acid on the child, etc. Which we dont believe. My only question is, if this is true, why would you insist your child continues in the same school? If it were me, I would immediately remove my child and admit him in another school if I had even a hint that he was being harassed or victimised, forget being openly threatened. We all have our children in the school. And all children are precious.

The children were held back in the classrooms until the mob dispersed, after breaking school property, assaulting the guards, and handing over a letter to the principal demanding the school take back the expelled child.
The crowd of anxious parents swelled, the children were tired and hungry. The little ones were crying, the older ones throwing water, shoes, bottle caps and assorted missiles from their class windows onto the mob.

Finally, the children were brought down and dispersed off peacefully, a good 45 minutes after they were due to be released.

Today the school resembled a war zone. Police vans, barricades, SRPF personnel. Is this the atmosphere our kids should have to go to school in? The little sympathy I felt for the child who was expelled has evaporated. The little I felt that the school should have not expelled the child has gone. Now I am angry. I dont want my child to be in danger of hooligans entering the school premises, just so that one parent can scratch her activist itch. I dont want my child's school to be in the news for all the wrong reasons and never for what a great school it really truly is. And I hate the way the media is portraying just one side of the story. Not one parent now supports this parent. No one I know at least. Yet she claims in every news report on her that she is fighting this battle for all the parents. Dont fight for us, woman. We are okay with the fees. Go find some other cause to get riled about.

Monday, June 07, 2010

And school begins today....

The brat woke at a single call. "Brat get up, it is school day today," he opened his eyes, rubbed them. Stretched like a cat, and sat up straight in bed. He looked outside, staring at the overcast sky and the grey light that filtered into the room. "Is a dark morning tuday?"
"Yes," mamma replied, while frantically trying to get back into the routine of packing lunchboxes and snackboxes and filling waterbottles and such like routine that ensures mamma is always the last one out of the door in the morning, getting strange looks from folks in the lift because mamma patches on her powder compact in such a hurry that she has powder patched on in spots making her look like a dog with a bad skin infection and therefore patchy fur.
"Is going tu rain now?" he asked, solemnly surveying the horizon, as it extended all the way to the distant sea at Aksa Madh which we can see on a clear day from all our rooms.
"I dont know," replied Mamma, gathering her towel and essentials and getting ready to fling herself into the bathroom for her minute bath.
"What I'll do if it rains?" he squawked. "How I'll gotu skul? Will be all chikkad chikkad...my new shuz will get spoilt!" The anxiety in his voice increasing by the decibel."An my new bag will get wet and all my new books...."
"Whad wil my nu teacher say if I come tu skul wid dirdy shuz?"
Now he was close to panic. "Tell d rain tu wait till I get inside the skul and den to come."
Mamma is flattered that the brat thinks Mom could do a Halle Berry Storm version. "Mamma," he squawked again, "How can we play baskidball in d rain? My nu shuz wil get spoilt? An my nu uniform! Can we play baskidball with raincoat and gumbootz?"

Reaching school saw the worst traffic jam ever in the history of the universe. Pappa actually grew a stubble, and mamma swears the brat now needs a haircut. We discarded the car in the midst of stuck traffic (first day of school, every child came in by car, once the school buses take over, things will normalise) and ran through traffic and much to make it in time for the bell. Not a good omen to reach late on the very first day. We neednt have bothered. Nearly every child was late, thanks to the traffic jam. The father (bless his height and good eyes) was deputed to check which division the brat was assigned to on the board put up outside, which already had a throng of parents clawing at it. The brat's division discovered, we ran to where the class teachers were standing, Grade and division boards in hand. The brat spotted a friend waiting in the same line, and lapsed into the colloquial Hindi.
"Arey tu yeh class mein kyun aaya. Yeh to mera new class hain. Tu to old class ka friend hain. Tu old class mein jaa...."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Of six packs and wandering muskills...

The brat has been on a training break. The first is the long holiday up in pahadland. Then the current holiday from school which means that nights are up late in the park and waking up is generally last minute scramble to get into the office. Yes, the brat comes with us to the office and plays his superhero games all day on the computer because of lack of babysitting right now.

The other day, the brat looked at himself in the mirror post a bath, his hair still damp and ruffled like a hatchling.

"Wherez my muskills?"

Indeed the 'body' as he and the pappa termed it, had declined. Spare ribs were on display.

"Your muscles have gone back inside your body because you arent exercising," mamma told him sternly, cocking a stern eyebrow at the father who was comatose in front of the television set, nurturing his burgeoning paunch.

"You need to start exercising, to get your muscles back and become strong again!"

The brat considered the advice for a moment and went back to  callibrating his musculature as seen in his reflection.

"Bud, how the muskills goes back in the body, it goes inside the stomach, dats why my stomach is come out?"

His stomach too, was showing a pleasant rotundity that the Happy Buddha would have looked on with pride.

"Howtu take the muskills out from d stomach and pud it in my arms?"

Only with exercise my love.

"Mamma, pappa's muskills also gone to his stomach," he asked curiously.

Mamma grinned wickedly, and nodded in agreement.

"And Mamma, were your muskills gone? In your bum?"