Monday, May 31, 2010

Sonless Days

...make me want to sing my anthem.

Rahul is in Delhi right now, delighted to be reunited with Jimmashi (aka Cousin J). She'll be dropping him off to Madras this weekend so that Ma and Baba can have their turn trying to undo whatever little discipline Vicky and I have managed to instil in him, I suppose.

Still'n'all, I miss my little boy something awful.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Life Insurance

Me: It's ridiculous, you need more insurance than this. I think you should get about Rs. 50 lakh and then, hey, if you were to go under the wheels of a bus at least I'd be well provided for. And nobody'd know, did he fall or was he pushed.

V: If he had to pay that premium he probably jumped.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mod Cons

This morning on the Metro, there was a sudden commotion as my train was entering the station. A family group, complete with a boy maybe Rahul’s age or younger, had set the youngster down by the edge of the platform to pee. Naturally, the pee trickled towards the inside of the platform rather than the tracks, since that’s the way the child faced, and people were calling for security.

It was dangerous too, because the train was just coming in.

Funnily enough, I was more indignant at the authorities not providing a single bathroom in any Metro station (that I know of) than I was at the lack of hygiene. Forget a child whose control may not be so strong, as an adult in distress I once needed to use the loo badly and not only would they not let me into the staff loo (despite my red-faced explanation) they wanted me to climb up to the main road and walk a little way to the public toilet there. Of course, they were well within their rights to refuse me admittance and yet, when designing the Metro, was it so hard to allow for a small toilet on the platform and a couple outside?

The lack of convenient public toilet facilities is one of the big hurdles we face when we take Rahul out.

Yesterday we were lunching at the Oxford Chai Bar on Park Street when he needed to go. In Oxford Bookstore, this means you have to clamber downstairs, get out of the store, walk a couple of shops down to the children’s store, go right into the deep end of that (involving a few stairs, not the best idea for wee bladders) and then stand there minute after agonizing minute because some employee is hogging it. (It’s the only loo in there, I’m told.) When he finally emerged, Rahul and I walked in to find a decent-sized bathroom that had no towel or tissues, that had a dirty countertop around the basin and potty seat was dripping water (I hope.)

Another time the children's section loo was unavailable because of some remodelling so I had to sprint back to the main bookstore and insist they allow Rahul to use the staff loo there unless they wanted to clean their floors shortly thereafter.

Mothercare in Madras (T Nagar) was my introduction to the idea that a store could set aside a little space in which a mother may change, clean or feed an infant in dignity and comfort. It made good business sense, of course, because my parents ended up spending a fortune there just because it was easy to take Rahul to. When South City Mall opened up near our place I was delighted with the well-appointed toilets and the children’s changing rooms. But now the bathrooms there are a disaster. Some genius did away with the hygiene showers, substituting those little metal pipes under the seat that threaten to sodomise you. None of the hand dryers work, nor have they worked in ages. Soap may or may not be available, ditto paper towels and tissue. The children's rooms have never had any seating despite there being plenty of space for a couple of chairs so any feeding parent would have to do it standing up.

Outside, they have removed the seats that made shopping trips that little bit easier on achy grandparents. The original, smooth parking structure has been refashioned into a different route that now involves sharp turns and frequent confusion for non-regulars. The escalators no longer go both ways at each point. I mean, you have to trudge from one end of the mall to the other if you want to stop going up and wish to go down instead. Earlier you just had to walk across the atrium or, at the back, just switch sides.

And then they wonder why the footfalls decrease. I thought the whole point of the new economic regime was to get us young families out, spending money. Get the kids to the shops so that they could make demands the parents wouldn’t be able to resist. Get the grandparents to take the kids out shopping. Encourage people to travel so as increase the ticket sales. As long as stations, stores and restaurants think it’s fine to set up shop without decent bathroom facilities, at the very least, I don’t see how we are going to stop people using the road. Or, as the case may be, Metro platforms.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just As Sweet

Rahul: … so I told them, when my Ma comes, she’ll see to it.
Me: (slightly staggered at being called Ma and not Babu) And what is your Ma’s name?
Rahul: (after some thought) Shunanroy!
Me: And your Baba’s?
Rahul: Shoobhikniyogy!
Me: And yours?
Rahul: (after some intense cogitation) Bheblu. My name is Bheblu.
Me: And also Sharabh Niyogy, right?
Rahul: (jumping up and down) I forgot! I forgot! I forgot!

There's so much to learn and remember when you're only three and three quarters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I've been rather ill. Ana came to visit on a Friday and right from the morning after that party I was ill all the way to now, almost. That's two weeks. I'm much better now, off the antibiotics and down to one persistent cough, but I'm still tiring very easy and getting annoyed at the lethargy.

So, anyway, I have heaps of unanswered mail. Just wanted to let you know, I'll get around to it.

Rahul is shooting up these days and looking thinner than ever. Here is a recent photograph of him, on his way to "shool". No, it's not a uniform but it looked like one.

He's off travelling next week. A week in Delhi, after which Cousin J will drop him off at Madras. We join him there a week later, Vicky to stay on and me to return after the weekend. All things considered, he will be away from home for the better part of a month. Vicky noted that fact over lunch but didn't seem very enthused at the idea of another child to fill the, er, vacuum. For some reason, he's convinced he'll end up working more if there's another child. Well, I'm convinced of it too but I think it's time I was allowed to have a child who does not feel the need to inform his sire every so often that "Ami Babu ke bhalobashte parchhi na" (I cannot find it in me to love Babu). Out with the old, I say, and in with the new.

By the way, I was going through old photographs of a Certain Bhablet the other day and OMG did the child look daft or did the child look daft. I cannot believe his grandparents gushed over his "intelligence" and "smartness" and stuff like that. Take it from the doting mum -- he looked like he had a permanent "duh!" written all over his forehead.

I know what you're thinking, I wouldn't be so mean if he had cuddled me this morning, and what do you know, you're perfectly right.

Talking of the boy, M'pishi came over from Delhi to "help me out" and "look after me" when I fell ill. She reached our place late on Monday night (I fell ill on the Saturday) and her monologue went something like this (from the stairs upwards):

Dadubhai, I've come to take you to Garfa, where are you... Phuli, I see you've lost your paunch, you must be careful not to lose too much weight... Dadubhai, where are you, come, let's go!"

There's concern and care right there. If you can't find it, don't ask me, because I missed it too. Ma called me everyday and asked after Rahul first. Only Pishithamma came to see me. I spent Mothers' Day running up 104 degrees on the thermometer so I order you to feel sorry for me.

Vicky is being suspiciously nice to me these days but he was pretty mean when I first fell ill so I'm taking it as my due.

Oh and I've cut off all my hair.

That's my news.

And he steals my lines, too

Me: Just look at the boy. He's got to be punishment for my sins. It's as if Somebody observed me for 24 years and chuckled to Himself and said, "Hah, will she ever get hers or what."

V: Well, think of my plight, I got two of that.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I love you and I love him and when I see her, I feel this strange pull I don't know how to describe. I don't care to explain or rationalise it.

We all got what we wanted. Just not the way we thought we would.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The problem with being brought up by teenage boys

... is that even now, a dozen odd years later, I find myself eyeing more women than men.

Bah. Guys, some of you read this blog. Know that you have a lot to answer for!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

One Year

That's Vicky's status message today.

This time last year we were waking up late, still a bit groggy from the week's runaround. I was making plans for a Niyogy family wedding due in five days, I remember, while I tried to deal with all the other worries we had then. We made a special effort, Vicky and I, to slow down and not pile the stress on an already worried little boy. Because I wasn't up to cooking, we went for lunch to Smart Kolkata. We had just ordered when his mother called with news of his father's collapse. Vicky was there in minutes and in those few minutes before I could get there, it was all over.

I never thought I'd miss my father-in-law as much as I have. That when I wake up early in the mornings and potter around the house, I remember quietly shared cups of tea, the wordless communication and a gradually built ease around each other in those semi-dark mornings. That I still hang on to his few words of praise because nobody else thought to even notice what he found praiseworthy. That it breaks my heart to watch his adored grandson slowly forget him and that indescribable bond they had. I still have the occasional empty moment when I see something and think, "I must tell Baba this" only to remember I can't.

If there is one thing that losing his father has done to Vicky, it's made him a better father in turn. He is far more gentle and patient with his own son than before, and I can see the effort he makes, trying to emulate the patience and kindness his own father gave him. Both the brothers suddenly grew up this year, in intangible ways. My mother-in-law discovered hidden strengths she never knew she had. She's had to cope with so much that she never had to consider before and she's managed.

I know Rahul's forgetting is only natural but I wish he remembered more. How he used to confidently saunter into the house, pushing his grandmother aside (who needs women) and go hunting for his 'Thakur'. How he would demand his car and keyboard and tools and know that his grandfather would ensure he got them all, despite my protests that he was too young. How he, a two and a half year old little boy, grew quieter and quieter around his grandfather when he worked out for himself that his Thakur was too ill to play with him. How he told me to take his grandfather to the bedroom and make him lie down because he wasn't well. I wish he remembered the delight and supreme confidence he felt in his grandfather's arms, knowing himself to be impregnable and adored. I wish he remembered the eagerness with which this grandfather of his used to look forward to the visits, to his growing up. Unlike the grandmothers, Baba wanted him to grow up so he could chat with him, take him around, play with him. So that he could reach the stage he is at now.

There isn't anything to say, really. Just that we all miss him.