Thursday, March 27, 2008

of stories underlying drawings

mithi's drawings always have a story behind them. usually, there are plenty of people who are doing plenty of things. yesterday, she told me the story behind her latest drawing.

mithi: look ma, this is the story of a king and a queen and their family and friends(royalty, of the western kind is her new muse to my dismay).

look at their crowns! they vary in size. this king always wears long, blue silk robes. next to him is his queen with long hair and in a long gown. next to the queen is Cruel-princess. The crown on her head has the name written on it. she is always hatching evil plans to kill the queen.

in the left hand corner, this boy is offering a bouquet and a ring to another little princess, and asking her whether she will marry him when they grow up. she is saying 'yes'. so, this other boy prince near them is crying aloud because he also likes her and wants to marry her. he also has a bunch of flowers in his hand, but the little princess does not take them.

the king is angry with the little princess for saying 'yes' to the boy because he does not like the boy. he is not a very nice boy. see, the kings hands are raised up in anger. there are two maids who are watching what's happening.

to the left of the king, this girl in a red gown is crying because she wanted to become the king's queen, but the king made the queen, his queen.

in the painting, only the sun is smiling. the sun wears glasses.

red riding hood's granny

a week ago.

mithi has a ear ache. after putting the necessary ear drops in her ear, i tie a scarf around her head, covering her ears. teamed with her glasses, she looks like red riding hood's granny to me. i tell her that and she sulks. i prod her and cajole her into talking to me. finally,

mithi: mama, you should think about how i'll feel, shouldn't you? what if i were to tell you that you look like the wolf who has become plump with eating young girls like Red Riding Hood?

of originals and copies

mithi is down with fever and hence, supine on the bed. i flick channels and set max is showing Don (the old amitabh one). i switch to a news channel and she nudges me.

mithi: mama, let's watch don. i love the old don.
me (pleasantly surprised): but, i thought you liked the new one with your favourite khan in it. why do you like the old one mithi?
mithi is quiet.
me: why?
mithi: oh ma, you ask too many questions. i just like the old don more.

me: but this don has some elements different from the other one. it has changed things a bit.
mithi: correction mom. the new don has changed things a bit in the old one. the new one is a copy. the old one is is the word, 'octagonal'?
me (delighted with this Plato like kid who talks about copies and originals): not 'octagonal' but 'original' ma.

mithi's pa, the lawyer, jumps into the fray.
pa: Yes, mits you're right! you are so very right! this is called by law, "copyright infringement."

mithi: poppy, i don't know all that. but, i do know that you should not copy other people's work; else, people will say that you have copied someone else's work and are not 'orthogonal'.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

of daughters

after a terribly busy day at work, and accomplishing hazaar chores on the way home, i reach home a wreck . carrying a dozen odd bags, packages, and papers and feeling completely ennervated, all i want to do iflop on to the bed at home with some chilled nimbupani.
mithi is playing with her friends downstairs when i drive in. one look at me and her face takes on a concerned expression. grabbing some bags from my hands, she asks with a worried expression on her face, "mama, what's wrong? are you upset about something? please tell me." a hug follows. "mama, are you unwell? come, let's go home."
it's great to have a daughter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

heal the world

bebo's birthday

bebo or vaidehi is mithi's best friend. six months younger than mithi, she is our next door neighbour and hardy to mithi's laurel. interestingly, mithi's first word, uttered at the age of 8 months, was not ma or ba or pa. it was "vaidehi," uttered with sheer gentleness. was blown out of my mind when i heard that.

last evening. 7 pm.

i see the two devils giggling and furiously scribbling something in a lovely sheet of handmade paper. sometimes, bebo chews the end of her soft pencil and looks hard at the distance. mithi keeps laughing and urges her on.

8 pm. they get up and shake hands. bebo hands over the paper to mithi with a conspiratorial smile. the latter rolls it and ties a red thread on it.

9 pm. mithi and her dad settle down on the bed in their usual tangled pose.
she unrolls the sheet of paper and reads out:

"please remember bebo's birthday is on march 31st. do not forget the date or big 'dangers' will happen. you may be eaten up by a bad witch or durvasa may curse you. here is a list of the gifts mithi has promised bebo for her birthday--
1. a barbie doll
2. a barbie comic book
3. a barbie make up set
4. a barbie pencil box
5. barbie hair pins
6. a barbie frock
7. a barbie water bottle
8. a crayon set that has barbie on the cover
9. a barbie drawing set
10. a barbie kitchen set
11. a barbie bathroom set
12. a barbie dressing set
13. barbie's boyfriend
14. barbie hankies
15. barbie cards
16. barbie stickers

if mithi's parents do not get the above, bebo will be sad. so mithi will be sad. as a result, mithi's parents will be sad. family will be sad. so, for the sake of the family's happiness and laughter, do as asked. please. please, please, please?

Friday, March 14, 2008

mom and pop weddings

mithi: pa, i wish i had been around to see your wedding. it would have been such fun. i would have danced so much!
me: why didn't you?
mithi: arre, how could i have been present? i wasn't around then.
pa: where were you?
mithi: i was in mama's tummy, silly!
me: so why did you not come visiting?
mithi: offo, i was in this pouch in your tum, okay? to come out i'd have to tear out the pouch and your tum. what kind of dulhan would you have been? hee.hee.

morning mayhem

morning mayhem at home stubbornly refuses to go away. every morning of the past 4 1/2 years, ever since mithi started going to school, it envelopes the house like a thunderous cloud.

i wake up bleary eyed, somehow make myself a cup of coffee to really wake up, and get into action mode. Dodaa dodaa bhaagaa bhagaa saa...dodaa dodaa bhagaa bhaaga saa...keeps playing over and over in my head. slowly the battle of algiers unfolds itself at home.

i start off by huskily crooning to mithi to wake up..." mithu, get up ma."... 'mithi, look at the time puchu, it's 7.30. come on, get up."... " mithee, uth na ma. get up. " mithi opens one eye fractionally, looks at me, turns over on her tummy and lies there as still as a statue. as the minute hand on the clock surges ahead, all sweetness abandons me, until finally............. i screech,

when she doesn't respond, i drag her out of bed, yank the bedsheets off her, try to push her towards the bathroom, put the toothpaste on her toothbrush, switch on the geyser, all at the same time. the moment i release my grip on her, she runs back to the bed and flops on it.

now i get into dramatic, filmy mom mode. sometimes, for effect, squeeze out a few tears also, " why do you do this to me everyday? i need to go to work too. every morning you trouble me like this. you are not a 3 year old anymore... i have to do things like a maniac to get you to the bus stop on time. .. " but, am out for a duck.

sometimes, the drama works--when the tears are genuine out-of-vexation tears. at such times, she hugs me and obliges by rushing to brush her teeth. at other times, she just laughs or giggles at the sight of me wailing like a banshee. she may even run around in circles in the room, or throw a, "mumm, don't do emotional blackmail, okay?" (where did she pick up the phrase from?)

the wrath and tirade, after a point, becomes a scud missile and is now aimed at hubby, who may sometimes be reclining on the bed in a matsyagandha pose and gazing at the scene in the room with a half smile on his lips in the worst case, or a compassionate glance thrown my way at best. i bellow, " look what you have done to her! you spoil her rotten and i have to put up with such... such...behaviour, indifference.... and such... utter disregard for punctuality or discipline!" hubby sometimes ducks behind his newspaper or sips his coffee regally. once in a blue moon, he allies himself with me against such brats of the world and thunders, "MITHI! DON'T TRY YOUR LUCK TOO HARD! STOP TROUBLING MAMA. " he may even say things such as, " mithi, don't do such badmaashi. you may do it tommorow again...." or chant, "duniya ka naara, jame raho, masti ka ishaara, jamein raho!" and both chortle and giggle or guffaw.

what does this mum do? she tries out her last bits of arsenal, " alright then. i'm going to write to swati mam, and tell her that this seemingly good girl in class is a devil at home, with no discipline, or manners or sense of time. wait and watch i WILL do it now." success at last. the child pleads with me and hovers around me to not do it. i may or may not smirk. game, set, match.

if, by chance, this does not work, at times, i lock myself in the bathroom, bawl my eyes out, or take a brisk shower myself like a major general. come out, put my nose up, refuse to look at anyone in the eye, get dressed and pretend to leave for work.

if by chance, any of the other ruses have worked, then mithi and i work in tandem, we brush our teeth together, i scrub her and scrub her dry, get her dressed in --vest, shirt, bicycle shorts, trouser, socks, tie, belt, e band, blazer, cap, et al. so many buttons! so many darned buttons! where are her glasses? where are her school hair clips? push her to dining table. while i sharpen her pencils, check her pencil box, and school bag, sign her almanac, mum sets her breakfast on the table--chyawanprash, paranthaas, milk, whatever. by now am under the table, pushing her feet into the shoes. usually it's a struggle, a tug of war between feet and shoes-- black on mondays and tuesdays, white on wednesdays, thursdays and fridays. mithi calls out, " papa, get up. get dressed. it's time to go."

breakfast is propelled into her mouth periodically. when it's over, there is her hair to attend to. the more you try to comb, directly proportional will be the distance she'll move away from you. all this will be punctuated by " aah, ouch, ...mama, stop it." and " how do i comb your hair otherwise?" "It's already 8.20. your bus will leave. " i keep repeating periodically even as we are moving in simple harmonic motion.

by now hubby has picked up her bag and waterbag and is searching for the car keys. i join him in the hunt, muttering under my breath or quietly depending on my mood. it's amazing how he finds the most unusual places to lose them everyday. really original. he manages to retrieve them this time from the shoe rack. hey viola! the duo finally leave and leave me gasping for air.

not quite. in precisely 6 seconds, mithi comes back with a sheepish expression on her face. heavens! it can only mean one thing. the call of nature is too strong. duniya kaa naaraa, jame raho! rush. take off half her clothes. help her, but today, it's a false alarm.

she finally runs down the stairs. father and daughter will chase the bus as usual, honking wildly, and catch up with it after 2-3 stops, if lucky.

i am a dead rag. i get dressed in precisely 15 minutes and leave for work. duniyaa kaa naara, jamein raho!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

of siblings

mithi and i are chatting about sundry things when she mentions that bittudidi is reprimanded by her parents for anything that happens at home and bebo, the younger child escapes scott free.
me: but she is the older child so parents naturally (unfortunately) tend to question the older child and not the younger one.
mithi: that's not fair. why should one child be scolded for everything? mama, this makes bittudidi sad.
me: but this is something that happens in every family....

conversation veers to siblings and families.
me: do you wish you had a sibling?
mithi: no. i have so many friends to play with all the time. besides, if i did have a younger sibling, papa and you will love me less.

family anthems

hubby and i are arguing about something. for sometime we are unable to come to a common consensus. mithi, as usual, is a mute witness to the goings on. as usual she erroneously believes it is a mahabharat replay. after a while the clouds clear and sunshine pours through a chink. mithi is sulking.

the television is on all this time. with the lull, everyone now 'hears' what music the cable guy is playing. first to come up is mohammed rafi charging through dilip kumar in Leader, "apni aazadi ko hum hargiz mita sakte nahin...sar kata sakte hain lekin sar jhuka sakte nahin." hubby immediately quips, "hey mithi, this is mama's anthem! " next in line is, "aa dekhein zaraa, kismein kitna hai dum..." hubby is quick to comment, " this is MY song !"

Mithi, our all time peacekeeper, jumps up when the next one comes along and claps her hands as usual. The song is, "tum se milke aisa laga tum se milke..armaan hue pure dilke..." "Mum and Pops" she cheers excitedly, "this is YOUR song!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

boys in mithi's class

overhear a conversation while waiting outside mithi's classroom to meet her teacher
boy: ae aunty! chashmish!
mithi: kyun, mujhe aunty bulata hai? ek maarungi na!
boy: tu bhi aunty aur shivangni bhi aunty.
mithi: le bhusa kha!

later at night i speak to her.
me: mithu, why did you hit that boy?
mithi: mama, he called Shivangni and me aunties.
me: so, what difference does it make? maybe he called you aunty because you both are tall and well built.
mithi: but no one should laugh at anyone na.
me: just ignore people who make fun of you for any reason. if you ignore them, they will be really irritated and will not persist in their behaviour. you don't need to start beating people up.
mithi: who will teach these badmaash boys a lesson if we keep quiet?

of parents and children

Mithi catches me staring wistfully at papa's portrait on the wall.
mithi: mama, what are you thinking of ? are you thinking of aja? oh mama, your eyes are misty.
me: ahem.
mithi: mama, some day i will also cry for papa and you the same way.