Sunday, December 30, 2007

Go and see Taare Zameen Par right now....

...I sobbed my heart out in the theatre much to the amusement of the gang of college kids seated behind me, getting thoroughly and completely bored with this saga of the incredibly adorable Ishaan Awasthi, misunderstood, a butt of ridicule, constantly punished and rebuked by all, living in a dream world all his own. Insolent, overcharged, curious, bindaas, And unable to comprehend alphabets. So much like my brat. So many things, so many parallels. Unable to catch a ball. Unable to tie shoe laces, unable to follow complex commands. I could have been Tisca Chopra as the helpless Mrs Awasthi, only I would have been fighting fisticuffs dare the husband be so terribly mean to the brat. As I sobbed unabashedly, snorting inelegantly as Ishaan is left behind at the boarding school, sobbing furiously as he sobs in the relative midnight silence of an alien boarding school bathroom, wondering whether this could be my son at the mercy of an unforgiving teacher and meaner classmates and friends who break down his self esteem bit by bit until he becomes a silent, withdrawn, terrified shadow. I see signs of it, already. Classmates who tease him. "Buddhu, buddhu, buddhu," they jeer. I hurry him away. But that is when I am around. What happens when I am not? Will anyone silence them, or will they continue to pick on him because he cant tell N apart from Z. Would I be able to leave the brat at a boarding school knowing what a sensitive child he is? No. I wont have the courage. I have no courage where he is concerned. I am shamelessly a coward. I wish I could build a bubble around him to keep him cocooned, but that is not the option. He is going to fight this out. And I will fight it with him. And my little fighter will fight it out, and better all those who call him buddhu and stupid and duffer today. Kids can be the cruellest enemies kids can have. Yes, this beautifully made movie is what made me break my self imposed exile from the blogosphere. If you havent seen it yet. Go now. This moment. And Aamir Khan, thank you. From the bottom of my heart for having the courage to make this movie.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Holidays....

Houseguests. Holidays. Truant maids and cook. And a pileload of deadlines. Will be on a break. See you after the new year. Till then, have a great Xmas and here's wishing you all a very very delightful and magical new year.....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why I will not buy the brat guns anymore...

...it twisted my intestines into a clammy knot as I read about the two boys in Gurgaon who shot their classmate, and then expressed absolutely no remorse about killing him in cold blood. And they planned it carefully, down to the last detail. I had heard about the spate of killings in US schools, read about them, felt shocked with the kind of distant sympathy one feels for something that doesnt really affect them, something that is so far off, that one doesnt even relate to it totally. But here, now, in India, in the kind of school my son could be going to. If schools are going to be unsafe for children what hope is there for us parents? Yes, I know the arguments, there are risks on the road, there are risks at home, there are risks in the malls, there are risks everywhere. There are risks when the child is sleeping right next to you in the house, an earthquake could decide to happen right then and there. It is a scary world out there, and its getting scarier by the minute. If I have to keep my child supervised among friends today, I know it is because a child was filmed nude by other kids at an unsupervised birthday party and then the clip circulated much to the poor little fellow's absolute mortification. I know that children are being exposed to things I cannot even hope to keep them away from what with the cartoon channels showing such unwarranted violence and fisticuffs in the name of humour that it just isnt funny. The brat thinks nothing of getting into a dramatised fisticuff situation and then wonders why the other party gets annoyed. To him it is a game. To me, a sign that too much television has happened over the past few days. He watches movies with his father, who loves to watch them gangster flicks, and then runs around the house with his toy gun shooting the heads off anyone who happens to come in his way, and commanding them to die. Does he even understand what dying is? I learnt about death for the first time when I saw my father's dead body at the age of nine. Does he even realise how precious life is, to understand how terrible death is? Will telling his father to censor his viewing while brat is around help in anyway? I dont think so. The Power Rangers are much worse. They have incredible stunts, they never get hurt, and they never die.
The brat and his friends played cops and robbers the last time I had his gang over at home for lunch. They hid behind doors and walls and opened fire on each other. They fell splayed awkwardly in parodies of death that had us mothers rush to pick them up and admonish them. Trying to steer them towards more docile playing with puzzles and cars and such like only had them playing race the cars in banging, crashing simulations. And the girls are no better. It isnt a boy thing anymore. This is a violent generation, and we are to blame as parents. I lay the blame solely on myself for brat's affinity for guns and rough tumble play. I am the one who has not channelised his energy efficiently enough in appropriate play. Okay, enough guilt tripping.
But the fact remains that this is now a generation that thinks nothing of taking a peer's life. There is no sense of remorse, no sense of the value of the other's life, no sense of the pain they are inflicting on the other. And these are boys my son can grow up to be. And that really, really scares me. And if he doesnt grow up to be these boys, the ones around him will. How much do I protect him from and how long?
Is the day here when our kids will have security screening at the entrances to their schools and gang wars happening in the recesses. I do know of schools in Mumbai that have the teachers petrified of rubbing some of the senior kids the wrong way because there is no telling what the kids might do. And yes, these are schools where the very rich in a rich suburb send their kids. These are kids who get dropped off in Mercs and BMWs. Not slum kids. Not ghetto kids from minority areas. Regular mainstream kids, whose parents are hoping and pulling out all stops and connections to ensure they make it into Ivy league colleges when they pass out from school. Schools where parents are lectured about wearing decent clothes when they come in for PTA meets by the principal. (This is based on pure hearsay, from a friend who has her son in said school). A school which had me see a girl in the school uniform buy a packet of condoms from a chemist while I was standing right there, slack jawed and open mouthed in shock. This could be the brat's classmate in a couple of years.
Our children are growing up too soon. And growing up too desensitised. And it is scaring the hell out of me.
I, for one, am not going to be buying the brat any more guns, he's got enough and more to decimate the galaxy. And he is going to be sat down and explained that fighting is not the great thing the movies make it out to be. People get hurt, people die and that is a very bad thing. God knows, I will try. I might not succeed. But I can at least try. And I hope other parents do too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mamma, I like you....

Its that moment, when you're lying down at night, the day's duties done. Even bone in your body wrung out with sheer exhaustion. The mind abuzz with the teacher's telling you about how far behind the brat really is in comparison to the rest of the class, and how much he needs to catch up on. The therapist telling you his grip is pathetic and that is why he really isnt writing at all, where the rest of his class is writing down three alphabet words phonetically. The fear that cramps your stomach up thinking that your child is going to be the bottom of the heap, the class idiot. The kid who is guaranteed to make the just about skinned it through my teeth into next grade. This despite his report card which had him in glowing terms, terms so glowing I wondered whether it was the brat they were talking about.
The dealing with a brat who is on constant uppers in a home that has new furniture already banged into and dented and damaged. The shouting, the reprimands, the absolute feeling of morphing into a momzilla terrifying you, the racing against time to get from A to B, the shovelling in of each meal, the coaxing of the potty out with cajolery, bribes and promises of treats and trips to the mall if done promptly and without deciding to loll around on the pot for a couple of hours with Mamma's hair popping white by the minute, the realisation that one hasnt really looked into the mirror all day to even apply a coat of lipstick since the morning when one did so in the car, the sinking awareness that it isnt actually premenstrual bloat that one has been kidding oneself about but rather a hitherto loose and comfy pair of jeans which has really, indisputably become obscenely tight, that you have been on your feet since six am, and of these only ten minutes have been devoted to self, and that too in the bath, that the brat has been treating you like a monster from hell all through the day, and seeking every opportunity to defy you, and you've been saying no to eight things of ten that he asks for and you wonder if it really is worth it, and will it ever end.
Thats when the brat snuggles upto you, and wraps his arms around you, letting you deep breathe in his Johnson's baby shampoor fresh hair and says, "Mamma, I like you. No, I really like you." And hugs you tight till he drifts off into deep sleep.
And all is forgiven. Until the next day.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why the brat didnt run his race...










Having done our own little cheerleading dance from the start line, we broke all records by coming in last in the race, much to national level swimmer father's complete dismay and disgust. But I think he deserves a special prize for entertaining the audience, dont you?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Yet another tag. Two more to go.

The wondrously young and nubile Sue has tagged me to list out the following, according to the nearest decade approaching. With the good thirties now soon to be behind me, and the roaring forties waving cheekily from the horizon, I dedicate this list to the fond memories of the great ambitions I had through my teens. Folks, listen to this old lady. Get done whatever you think needs to get done. Life passes you through while you are still planning. Ahem, ahem. Words of wisdom uttered, I now get onto the list. Given I have three years left to get them done, I have a rare chance of a pig flying on a broomstick to get even half done.
10 Things I Will Have Done by Forty

10. Given brat a baby sister to boss around.

9. Figured out the meaning of life.

8. And having figured out the meaning of life, gotten down to the serious business of living it, rather than letting life happen to me.

7. Edited a fashion magazine. Or died trying to do so.

6. Made peace with circumstances that compel me to be around people who are really toxic to my self esteem.

5. Taken the brat on a cross country drive without panicking about him falling ill.

4. Visited the new seven wonders of the world.

3. Written the new Great Indian novel and become an instant international celebrity. And thereby made a lot of money.

2. Lost all the weight I need to lose. Basically, decide I am perfect as I am and that I don’t need to lose any weight.

1. Spent a fortune on antiwrinkle creams.

10 Things I Miss in My Life Right Now (in no particular order)
My flat stomach. My concave stomach with no squiggly silvery lines dotted all over right to hip level. My stomach flat enough to render silhouette unbalanced.

The freedom to take off whenever one felt like it. Just throw some clothes into a duffel bag and drive out. I miss NH4. And NH 7. And the coffee dhabas along the Bangalore Chennai highway. And just driving down from Mumbai to Chennai, Cochin, Trivandrum, Goa. We’ve done it. Just taken off so many times on a lark that I really long to go again. Sleeping in the car, or at sidey little hotels along the way. Ahhhhhhhh.

The romance. The romance. The romance. (Is the husband reading this?) All the fancy watches and diamond jewellery cannot bring back that feeling of being the all important focus of someone else's life. They help though. And it does feel good that he tries.

The ability to sleep through the night without the brat’s limb in my face or the stomach. The ability to sleep without being bothered about the bell ringing and the milkman arriving. The ability to not be bothered about the house and its running because the mother was taking care of it. In summary, the days when I was not married and living with the mother.

The feeling of doing constructive work that was Very Very Important. Aka a job.

Dancing. Dancing through the night.

Getting rip roaring drunk. Without being bothered about the little man needing his momma sober.

My school friends. My college friends. Dammit. All my friends.

My pristine non grey hair.

My father. Says a lot doesn’t it, that I still miss his presence after almost three decades. Will I never grow up?

There. Done. Now I shall be mean and tag Trishna, Parul, Y, Poppins Mom and Moppets Mom. Parul, I promise to take up yours soon.

Get it girls.

Stories from the stomach

Scene: A darkened bedroom. A snoring father. A semi comatose mother. And an overdosed on sugary chocolates brat who is still bouncing off the walls. Suddenly silence and calm descends. The brat crawls up onto the bed, puts my hand down in position as substitute pillow, sprawls himself out comfortably, having kicked offending papa into a sliver sized area of the bed, and stares at the ceiling. The kind of contemplation that heralds deep metaphysical questions and issues of why we need to do potty everyday and drink gugu two times a day. Mamma watches the little mind ticking furiously beneath the eyes darting back and forth.
"What are you thinking, son?"
"When I was a small baby...."
"Yes, beta????"
"Where did I come from?"
Mamma hyperventilates as much as feasible with one hand pinned behind deep in contemplation brat head. She closes her eyes and prays to Dr Spock to give her an answer that is age appropriate and relevant and doesnt get into sex education right now. She looks at snoring Pappa for help, and as usual, gets none.
Realising the brat is staring quizzically at her, she replies hurriedly. "From my stomach."
He continues to stare quizzically at Mamma. Pappa, who was hitherto perhaps pretending to sleep in order to escape Mamma's continual whining laments about the loopholes in the interiors of the home yet to be decorated to her complete satisfaction, turns around in intrigue. And waits for the conversation to be furthered. Mamma sharpens her mind to deal with the inevitable, "how did I go inside your stomach?" But the brat is one up on her.
"No,Mamma," he says, with the clear deliberateness of the philosophy professor compelled to deal with the class idiot. "I came from God."
And that was the end of the debate.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My brat, the fashion plate....

This confirms it all. The brat will be known for his sartorial penchant rather than the power of his dazzling wit or charm.