Thursday, October 28, 2010

And so Ahem Ahem....

A little announcement....

Once Upon a Time...
…there was a young girl who loved reading. At any given point in time you could bet your last rupee that she could be found with her nose in a book. Buried three inches deep. Take her to a toy store and she would screw said nose up and request her parents buy her a book instead. By the time she was eleven she would scoff at the local lending library because she had more books in her collection than they would have. Her mother would be tearing her hair out in despair over the space in space crunched Mumbai to stock these books.

And yes, this girl loved to write. Writing was something that came naturally to her. Words flowed from her pen. When she hit junior college her uncle bought her typewriter and she taught herself to type. And she typed out poems and short stories and was most pleased with herself when any of the ones she sent out got published.

Then she grew up and got into journalism. And soon her writing got relegated to assignments, and seeing her byline in print didnt give her any thrill because she was seeing it often enough. She quit because she wanted to try for a baby. And she needed to go in for ART. And she had her baby. For six years her life went onto the back burner as she played slave lackey to the demanding tyke who thought it his birthright to expect her to fetch and carry. Which she did, of course, ungrudgingly.

Until March of this year, when she sat down to take stock of her life. Nothing accomplished. Nothing done. She put her head down onto the desk and almost wept. She had morphed into a boring suburban housewife. That was not what she wanted to be remembered for when she died. She wanted to have her name on a spine that could be cracked, and with pleasure. She wanted to have a book to her name. At least one. Then, she decided, she would die happy. Till October, she promised herself. I will do this by October this year.

So she sat at the computer and wrote. Wrote a long tortured saga about two sisters who were as disparate as chalk and cheese and had a terrible secret between the two of them. She sent it out. It came right back at her.

Then, for a lark, she began writing something loosely modelled on herself and her life. She wrote around three chapters and mailed it out with a brief one line synopsis of the rest of the chapters. She struck gold. The editor she had mailed it to, liked it and wanted to see the rest. She didnt have the rest. She hadnt written it yet. But she was one never to say no. Two weeks, she told the editor. Will have it to you in two weeks.

So for two weeks, Monday to Friday, she sat and wrote for a couple of hours everyday between her regular assignments, and child pick up and drop and by the end of two weeks she had a book she mailed out.

The editor liked it. The contract was signed. And the book is now in the capable hands of the editor at Westland Publishing. And will be out eventually. Will take time I’m told. A long time. I’m in no hurry. I can wait. I waited this long to write it.

For all those readers of this blog and who told me to write a book, this is for you. And yes, this is for the mother who never stopped asking me when I planned to sit down and write a book, even when I was trussed up like a chicken in the delivery room for my C-Sec.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brother of Sam

The brat came sat on my stomach in amiable fashion last night after lights out.
"Mamma," he began, and I sighed, because that tone meant a long conversation was imminent.
"Mamma whad if I had a brudder?"
But you dont have one, child, you have a lovely cousin brother, and three gorgeous cousin sisters and that, my child is your lot given your parents laziness with regards to further procreation.
He is persistent, this child. God knows he didnt get that from either of us.
"But whad if I had a brudder. If he grewed in yer stomach?"
I cant have any brothers or sisters growing in my stomach, I told him. Your pappa has to put in the baby seed first for anything to grow.
"D baby seed is a small seed?" he asked. Yes, I replied, seeking ways and means to end the conversation before it ventured into further explicit detail which I was in no mood to tackle at the end of the working day.
"If pappa doesnt put the seed, I will get one seed fer you. From the watermelon. You can put it in your stomach and make a baby grow."
Mamma nodded noncommitally.
The brat sighed, a sigh of wonder and future planning.
"If yer stomach becomes big wid a baby, and a baby boy comes out with the vacuum cleaner (yes, thank you 3 Idiots for explaining the birthing process along with animated graphics), den I will have a baby brudder?"
Yes, but youre not going to have any baby brother. Pappa and Mamma wanted only one baby and that is you.
He was in no mood to listen and continued on his daydreaming in the night.
"An I'll call him Sam. An when udder chillun will beat him I will go and perteck him, an I will be a big brudder."

Mamma shuddered involuntarily at the choice of name, and hoped it didnt come from Son of Sam.
Mamma redeposited him from his perch on her stomach to his space on the bed. Pappa continued his earth tremor inducing snores undisturbed.
The brat was still lost in his daydreaming of a little brother, who he presumed would be born a walking talker toddler.
"And when we go to school, I will hole his hand and take him safely up the stairs. Sam, I will tell him, don run, you will fall down."
Mamma feels a phantom uterine contraction.
"Everyone will say yer older brudder is so strong."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

If Mamma dies...

Last evening, while Mamma was sprawled in front of the telly watching a lovely movie about Spanish Resistance fighters and a French fashion photographer with Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz and someone delectable whose name she doesnt quite know, the brat trundled over and draped himself proprietorially over her.

"Mamma, don die," he exclaimed dramatically.

Mamma, who has no intentions of giving up the ghost in the near future, or at least not until she has done her Europe tour, was startled into sitting up straight.

"What happened, brat? What makes you think I am going to die?" she asked concerned about the tears rolling down the brat's cheeks.

"I dreamed that you wuz dying, and you leaved me alone."

Mamma hastened to console him that she had every intention of doing the Funky Chicken at her 90th birthday, by which time he would probably be consulting astrologers as to when I was destined to fly to the big coop in the sky.

"Whad I'll do if you die?"

Mamma thinks dramatic serials on television with themes of kids suddenly being orphaned need to be censored promptly.

Mamma told him that there would be plenty of folks around to take care of him, both his grandmothers, his aunts included. And that his father would probably get a nice, pretty new Mom, who would be a great cook to boot to take care of him.

"Bud I don wan new Mom. You is preddy enough fer me."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Down the years

 First Birthday. Mamma is looking the sleep deprived witch she was then.
 Third Birthday, he still needed to be lifted up to have his head above table height.

 Fourth Birthday. In his rapper avatar. And very sleepy and grumpy.
Fifth Birthday. The Superhero theme. The Orange Jacket. Subtlety is not a word in the brat's dictionary.
The sixth birthday. The Ben 10 cake with the lotus candle that refused to blow out like a self respecting candle.

And this is the seventh birthday. Mamma just realised she has no pictures of the brat's second birthday, because no one took any.

Happy Birthday my darling son

You turned seven yesterday. Seven is a beegchile. You are no longer my baby. I canna hold you in my arms and rock you to sleep anymore. I canna even carry you unless I am in that kind of frame of mind where I dont mind putting my back out. I can barely kid you about things anymore, you catch me out and laffatme.

As you can guess, I miss your baby speak. I'm hanging onto it rather desperately, although you have grown out of it a long while ago. You even handed out Return Gifts yesterday at your party, and not the redurngeefs of yore. It was heartbreaking.

You wore a black corduroy jacket, and a green tshirt, and black pants, all bought to match the black and green new shooz you had picked up a little while ago, which you were saving for your budday pahty. You looked most dapper, even though the jacket was a little optimistic in its sizing and reached your knees. What can I say, mamma always thinks of you as taller than you really are, because you fill up a room when you're around.

Your budday pahty was the rumbuctious kind of chaos that most birthday parties involving kids in your age group are, with kids running riot, games hosts tearing their hair out by the handfuls. We had the occasional spat, some tears, one cut lip from falling down, the glass of Pepsi spilt, which are all hallmarks of a normal party for a seven year old it would seem these days.

You hug me at the end of it all, and tell me "Thank you mamma for my budday pahty!" It still takes little things to make you happy. You havent yet noticed that Mamma and Pappa havent yet given you a birthday gift. I'm dreading adolescence striking and you demanding a gift as your birthday. You are still thankful for the little you get. You make occasional sounds about the Playstations and Ipods your friends have, but are consoled when told you can have them when you become a bigchildren.

Happy Birthday my darling child. May you get as much joy through your days as you give us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Of when the brat got a slap

Mamma has been grappling with an issue of moral debate since Saturday. The day of the Ram Lila programme. Mamma will proceed to narrate the course of events as they unfolded over the evening, and asks you, gentle reader, as to what she would have done in similar circumstances.

The brat has many good frens, among who A and V are in his inner circle. On Saturday, the bunch of rapscallions were let loose with dandiya sticks in their hands to go out and wreck havoc which they did in excellent manner with no need of further encouragement on the part of their parents.

No threats to the effect of grounding for a week, or no pocket money or even no immediate dessert allowed from the buffet had any effect to rein in their enthusiasm.

As a result, in the free for all that followed, V hit A rather hard on the head. A sobbed. A little lump formed on the side of his head. V's mother is of the lumpen variety who gets into arguments with anything she can argue with, and has been known to chase watchmen around the premises with a stick in her hand. In short, she is not a woman to be messed with and gets a berth wide enough for the Titanic to pass through from all the other moms in the complex.

When A was injured, the brat rose to his defence. And went to yell at V for his act of brazen hoodlumism. At which point Vs mother (imagine this!) began yelling at the brat. Mamma went up to both and dragged the brat away, looking dagger-eyed at Vs mother because she did not choose to get into a fish monger like scrap in front of an audience comprising the entire housing complex we live in.

As he was being dragged away, the brat used "Saaley. Tujhe to mein dekh loonga." Words he has no doubt picked up from television or movies or from sources unknown to mamma. At which point mamma administered a short, sharp and very public rap across the face which stunned him into tears.

Mamma has been told by all and sundry that Mamma's action was unjustified because the brat was only defending his friend who was hurt. Mamma's logic is he will not speak like a street thug and what she did was right. Explaining it to him later, when he had calmed down, and was sleeping held by Mamma, she did apologise and tell him he was not to speak like that to anyone.

He apologised too. And hugged mamma tighter. "I won say Saaley again tu anybuddy. I won say, okay mamma."

But mamma is still debating whether she should or shouldnt have administered that slap. And feeling the guilt and the pain eat her up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Of tails with broken bones....

In the true tradition of the Ram Lila, the brat was dolled up in Hanuman gear on Saturday for the society Ram Lila function. The mukut tied on. Innumerable strings of pearls draped on, entangled execrably, removed, disentangled, redraped, back to tear my hair out tangled up knots in five seconds of being on his person. Red Velvet shorts worn, Wire tail tied to the behind, with the help of a harness type of structure, over which a red velvet over skirt type of something was to be tied. The angvastram was draped carefully and pinned precisely and managed to get turned inside out in a split second  after which the pins somehow contrived to embed themselves into the fabric in such a manner that they could not be extricated.
By this point Mamma was pulling her hair out in bunches. The clock was ticking and it was five minutes to show time. The fake earrings were clipped on, the bajubands tied on, the eyeliner and the blush on painted on. And then it came to making the monkey face. The patch of pink around the mouth.
Hanuman squawked. "Wai yure pudding lipshtick on my around d maoud?" And smacked his forehead hard.
"You don know, yu must oney pud lipshtick on d maoud!"

Make up done after much explanations and pulling out of Hanuman picture from display in mandir at home, we finally made it to the ground where the skit was to be performed. All the children in costume were asked to sit quietly in a corner until it was their turn to performed. Easier said than done. Ram and Laxman were busy employing their bow and arrow to pretend impale each other, the Ravan was flinging flowers at Sita, who chased him down and sat on him before pummelling him to bits, and Jatayu was plying catch with his beak. Hanuman strutted around cutting a swathe in the crowd with his mace and his tail. In frustration, the skit director rounded them up with dire threats of no icecream and herded them into a corner. Hanuman was asked to sit on a chair. He lowered himself into said chair and then sprang up as though bitten. "My tail is paining," he squawked. "I canna sit on my tail. Is bonez will break."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hop over to Parul's blog now.

This wonderfully witty girl is now out with her second book. (No, that's not me turning Hulk Green, that's just the reflection from my monitor!) And like any good fren would I have a vested interest in seeing her becoming a best selling author, you know. I can go to parties and casually drop that "Who, Parul Sharma, yup, she's a close fren. Not a chaddi buddy, but a dear dear fren..." and see the rest of the populace look at me with newfound reverence and awe.

Therefore go to her blog now. Read up about her contest (Psst, psst, there are prizes to be won! Which include autographed copies. Twenty years from now you could fund your retirement by auctioning said copy. You know?)

I post the link here for your convenience. Again. In case you missed it the last time round.

Enter the contest. Link to her blog. Win cool prize. Zimble.
And yes, dont you forget to buy that book. I need one bestselling author as a dear friend to boast about.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Baby Sign Language

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while might remember my rants on not understanding what the brat was trying to communicate when he was an infant, and then his speech delay and consequent behavioural issues, tantrumming, unmanageability and so on which pretty much made most of his toddlerhood hell on toast for me.
Here's a guest post from Misty Weaver on Baby Sign Language, something I'd read about and wondered if life with the brat would have been any easier had I incorporated it into his toddlerhood. Read it. Tell me what you think about the concept.

Life Made Easier With Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language can make life with a young baby or toddler much easier. Signing gives you and your baby the tools to communicate with each other without relying on words. Signing can help with your baby’s sleep, mealtimes, weaning, and can help combat toddler tantrums. If you are struggling with any part of caring for your baby, try teaching her baby sign language. You can start teaching baby sign language at any time – even from birth. The sooner you start Signing With Your Baby, the sooner she will be able to communicate with you. Read on to find out more…

Easier Communication
Verbal skills take a long time to develop fully. Even young school children find it hard to communicate with their parents and teachers. By using simple hand gestures, babies and toddlers have extra tools for communication. It is more natural for a young child to think in pictures, not words, and by having a sign which represents the picture in their head, babies and toddlers can ‘speak’ without really having too. Don’t worry that Baby Sign Language will hold back speaking skills, though – this is far from the case. Studies have shown that children who signed often have larger speaking vocabularies than non-signing children.

Easier Sleep 
Baby Signing can also help with a baby’s sleep. Parents who sign with their babies often report that bedtimes are less stressful, and that their babies or toddlers will actually sign when they are tired. Every parent knows the importance of a regular bedtime routine. A bath, followed by milk, cuddles and a story, is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. Learning the signs for Bath and Milk are fun ways for a tired baby to communicate with you at this important time of the day. When Mom signs Bath Time, your baby will understand what is to come and will feel more secure and confident. Babies love to know what’s happening – and their confidence increases every time they correctly predict what will happen next. A relaxing secure bedtime routine leads to easier sleep.

Easier Mealtimes
By teaching the signs for favorite foods, parents can reduce frustration at mealtimes and make weaning fun. The key is to remember to make the sign every time you offer a certain food, saying the word clearly. Limit your signing to four or five favorite foods, and repeat these often. It’s important to be consistent and patient. Soon your baby will learn the signs that go with their favorite foods and this make it easier for you to interpret their demands.

Easier Toddlerhood
Signing helps your toddler communicate with you, which in turn reduces frustration. Most childcare experts agree that toddler tantrums are usually caused by extreme frustration. Toddlerhood is a time of increased mobility and an awareness of needs and desires, but with a limited range of communication – the perfect recipe for a frustrated toddler! Teaching your baby to sign may have the long-term effect that when he reaches toddlerhood he has the tools to communicate successfully, avoiding many frustration-based tantrums. 


Misty Weaver
Chief Editor, Baby Sign Language

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Mamma's name in d magazine

The brat and mamma happened to be at Crossword this afternoon. It is rare that mother and son visit a bookstore given the brat's penchant for running the minute mile whenever confronted by a book. Therefore the brat looked around in awe and wonder and searched high and low for the toy section, found it and began summarily gathering up all the toys his arms could hold and began moving towards the cash counter.
Mamma was flicking through the magazines on display to check what of what she had written had been published this month.
"Whachyu're lookin fer?" The brat poked his face into the magazine as I flipped to the page and found me byline in all caps bold.
"Read this," I told him.
"Kiran Manral," he read. His eyes widened.
I picked a couple of other magazines and flicked through them too, a necessity given that contributors are never sent copies.
"Look here, see this," I pointed out some more Kiran Manrals spattered on pages.
The brat's face lit up with delight. He grabbed me round the waist and hugged me hard.
"Mamma," he said, his pitch high with excitement.
"I'm so proudofyou!"
He hugged me tighter. "You are suchaclevergirl!"
For once mamma didn't mind him using her words back at her.

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