Saturday, May 25, 2013

Birthday week plus first workshops

Two special birthdays this week (happy birthday to them both -- I didn't forget and I never do).

Rahul has been going for his first ever workshops. Yesterday IQ stimulation thingie seemed a bit juvenile and he was a little bored when I walked in, in the second hour. Today's cookery workshop was a completely different story although I wish he would stop telling complete strangers what to do and then end it with "my mother says".

I know, you're thinking his mother does say and she's always telling complete strangers what to do too.

These are busy days. More later.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


For some months now I have been making a weekly trip to a non-conventional school in Tollygunge for Seagull Peaceworks as a volunteer of their 'Share Stories, Open Minds' programme. I usually spend my one hour with between 10 and 20 kids of ages ranging from 2 to 13 telling them stories. Sometimes we talk about what we heard; they sing and dance and they love to draw, so I often ask them to draw scenes from the stories they hear. Once, after an earlier discussion on Pinocchio, I made little paper and stick puppets with the children (something like these). Yesterday was the last session before the summer holidays and I threw the floor open to the children to make up stories of their own using three given elements (a snake -- we had just been discussing sea snakes; a ghost -- an all-time favourite; a mango -- it's the season!)

What was special about yesterday's session was that Rahul was there. He has been wanting to go with me to this school where all the 'Dada-Didi's (big brothers and sisters) hear stories. The children, on their part, have been curious about him ever since they found out I have a son. Rahul woke up late, while I was getting ready to leave, but when he remembered that I was going to the school he begged to accompany me and Vicky got him ready at super speed, so off we went, the two of us in a CTC bus.

He settled down comfortably enough once we reached, standing with the kids for prayers and only occasionally peering around looking for me. When we sat down in our circle I changed my plans; instead of starting the first of the two stories I had been planning to tell I told the kids about a recent family outing to the beach and Rahul jumped right in with detailed descriptions of his seaside adventures, including those sea snakes.

Then, when I threw the floor open to stories from them, Rahul was the first off the mark, ready with his story even before I stopped talking. He cleverly incorporated all three elements -- snake, ghost and mango -- into his little story and contrived to keep the big kids listening all through. It's no mean achievement for a six year old. He threw himself into his narration heart and soul and looked extremely contented when they clapped loudly for him. I was proud of all the kids then, the schoolchildren for making him one of their own so easily and him for completely forgetting to be shy or scared. Later on he followed it up with a couple of spirited renditions of "bang bhoot" stories (nonsensical tales of frog ghosts as dreamed up by my father for him last month).

It has long been one of my little disappointments that he has shown no interest in performance. Apart from occasionally wanting to watch shows he has been very clear he does not want to actually be the one on display. Yesterday morning, watching him enjoy the thrill of being the narrator, I thought to myself, yes, it's there somewhere, his mother in him.

Mostly I take pride in the little things in him -- his little kindnesses, his occasional tenderness and vulnerability, his lack of worldliness, his quaint manners, his consideration for the feelings of those he loves. Yesterday though I was simply that mother beaming with pride because her son showed his potential in front of the world.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Big Boy Toy Fund

When Rahul was about two or so a friend of ours gifted him a ceramic piggy bank with a cute cork topper that said "Big Boy Toy Fund". It was too nice to be played with so Vicky and I used it until recently to build up reserves of loose change.

Last week Rahul finally got it back and here is why:

We were at Hindustan Market one evening and he was tired and hungry. He was cranky and I was refusing to buy him anything. He saw a set of plastic scissors with changeable blades and I was about to refuse him those as well when I had a sudden thought and changed tracks. I told him he could have the scissors if he bought them himself. He doesn't get a regular allowance but I told him I'd pay him to fill the drinking water.

His one daily chore is to fill the water bottles at home. Usually if there are very many of them I tend to fill some up so as to make his job easier. I told him that I'd pay him Re 1 per bottle for every bottle beyond the daily quote of two that he has to fill anyway, and he could save that money for the scissors.

He managed to get the Rs 75 he needed in much less than a fortnight since his Dadu had given him a couple of shiny 'gold' Rs 5 coins and it turned out that the piggy bank had some loose change in it already. Yesterday we went to Hindustan Market despite the rain and despite being late for Dr D's birthday party so that those scissors could be bought. We didn't stop and take photographs but I'll always remember his happy urchin face and how urgently he held up his little purse asking the shopkeeper to help himself to however much he needed.

What I didn't know was that Vicky has kept on making those payments for water so Rahul has money accumulating in his bank once more. I personally think 6 is a little young for pocket money but given my little hedonist's tendency to consistently demand the best things in life, it may do him no harm to work for them. Also, it will hurt me a lot less when he breaks things he bought with his own money!

I don't like the thought of paying for chores either but since he is in general good about doing whatever he is asked to do, I'm considering paying him Rs 10 to dust the flat. Or at least as much of it as he can reach. Let's see how this experiment goes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Because You Loved Me

I was watching some Celine Dion videos. Rahul had been banished from my room a couple of hours ago because he wouldn't let me work.

He saw the door open because I was on my coffee break and crept in. Under the pretext of allowing him to listen to the music with me I pulled him onto my lap and sneaked in a cuddle. He cuddled back and asked to hold my hand.

I'm trying to convince myself he didn't want to grab my hand just to keep me from switching tabs.

However, as things stand, I can say we held hands and watched a lovely song together.

Having a child get almost too old to cuddle is the kind of thing that calls for a sad smiley.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

It's been a while since my first Mother's Day card.

Rahul is six and a half. He doesn't know what Mother's Day is but this morning I got cuddled and kissed and then some more. Just like that. It makes my day.

I also got breakfast in bed (yesterday's sausage pasta bake) and we're going out now.

None of this is unusual and I'm not sure Vicky knows it's Mother's Day either.

That is probably the best part about all of this.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Working from Home

My work is a matter of perspective. To me, it's all work, whether I write, edit, produce or perform; whether I cook, clean, launder or mend.

According to my parents, I pick unsuitable projects that have me work unreasonable hours and neglect my family.

According to Vicky I don't have to 'work' (and that is all that I should need from him).

According to Rahul, I should "stay with him always" which pretty much means being available on tap for when he wants me. Too bad I don't do the on demand bit.

Freelancing is a mug's game. It sounds positively perfect when you're sitting bored in office, but at least life is more clear-cut in a cubicle.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


There was a young woman in a mall today who was turning heads wherever she went. Whether it was the clickety-clack of her shoes or her pretty blue saree or her bright red nails pulled into focus by the big flecks of red in her cocktail ring (which she made great play with, to be sure) -- wherever she went, people looked up, turned around and stared. Me, I heard her being told she really should lose some weight.

Yes, maybe she has weight to lose. But she will never be this pretty, this young, this attractive, this age, ever again. Maybe he should learn to appreciate what he's got instead of constantly thinking of what she isn't. When she was thinner, she was lean because she was under-fed, she was wiry because she was over-worked.


Do you know what she really thinks? She thinks it would be wiser of him to remember that he's not the only person with ideals.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Things I Do

1. I meet people. These days, I don't meet a lot of my people, but I try not to drop off the map entirely. I keep meeting my father who keeps coming to Calcutta for a couple of very good reasons.

2. I learn to answer questions that my six year-old son dreams up. I'm not very good at this because I don't know much about reptiles or ghosts or cars but I try to keep up.

3. I tell stories. To Rahul mostly, and these days, once a week on Friday mornings, I tell stories to some kids at a slum school. Both kinds are very rewarding: Rahul thinks my stories are fantastic (even when they aren't, really); and the schoolkids are sweethearts who greet me with cheers and hug me goodbye.

4. I sew. Of late I've embroidered little dresses and right now I'm trying to learn to crochet. Nobody ever warned me you need extra fingers, maybe a whole extra hand, for the latter.

5. I iron my own clothes and these days I iron little uniforms. It's funny how I never really liked my son's school uniform (too blah) until he started wearing it last month. When he wears it, somehow it looks adorable.

6. I teach my son to spell. And count, and read. I encourage him to draw and think for himself and take responsibility and play fair. I listen to his stories which are remarkable for their clarity of thought and logic and narrative flow.

7. I try to forgive. I try to learn from my own mistakes and remember that I can throw no stones. I try to forget but I'm having no luck with that. Maybe it's too soon.

8. I give thanks every single day of my life for the happiness and health of those who matter to me. I do this because I live in a land where I am one of the truly rich and it's in my face all the time.

9. I keep trying to save us money. I spend time being such a scrooge, I need help learning to enjoy the money we do have, which is a pity, because it's not as if I'm saving us a fortune anyway.

10. I read horoscopes. I forget them even as I read, so I probably shouldn't even bother, but I read them anyway.

11. I make lists. And tick them off. I do this every time we have a party, and when we're expecting guests. I make shopping lists and lists of errands and lists of things to pack and lists of people to call and sometimes I lose those lists and my life goes haywire. I should learn to depend more on my memory and less on the written word!

12. I am currently traumatised by all the lingerie ads popping up at me online. They give me panic attacks and I shut my computer down.