Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rock and Roll

In the industrial township, our routine was generally the same everyday. 8 o’ clock, all the men went to work, and generally all the ladies were busy in house hold work. Those days I was living on the first floor of a hostel block. There were six two room flats on each floor connected to each other by a 40 feet long lobby. Mostly at half past ten or eleven o’ clock, we ladies were extremely busy in preparing lunch and during this time period we let the kids out in the lobby where they used to play. Out of six families, which used to live on the first floor, only four families had kids. My family was among those four. All the kids were below three years of age. The youngest one was Barsha, just one year and five months old. Her mind and body was so fast that even her parents could not keep up with her, and naturally, had lot of problems managing her. So at about eleven o’ clock everyday, her mother habitually placed her in a walker and tied the walker with a strong rope. Rest of the three kids, including my son, would play and run around in the lobby. Poor Barsha, called them or shouted at them to draw their attention towards herself. I always felt bad for the poor girl. One or two times I asked her mother to untie her, but she said that she is not like other children. If she leaves her then she will surely fall down from the staircase. At that time I thought that though children are innocent and careless, they still have a basic instinct of safety. They don’t go near animals, objects or even places that scare them or will hurt them; like kids don’t go near fire or dogs. I thought that if the atmosphere around them is unknown, any kid would always stick with their parents. Everyday the three kids played. Many times their ball or toys would fall down the staircase but they never dared to climb the staircase down. In such situations they always asked for our help.
One day, out of mercy I untied Barsha. The moment I untied her walker, she tried to run and eventually fell down. I bent down to help her get up on her two legs, but before I could do that, she crawled out of the walker. Her mother was spreading a wet bed sheet on the lobby railing. Barsha started running with her full speed. Her mother screamed, “Oye! Barsha!!” I didn’t understand the situation at that instant. But soon I realized that Barsha was running towards the staircase. Her mother started running behind her. I was still confused but I decided to run after Barsha too. My speed was better than Barsha and her mother. Barsha’s mother was right. Barsha was heading towards the staircase. But before she could raise her feet in the air to step down on the staircase, I grabbed her. Her mother, who was also running to catch her couldn’t stop due to her sheer inertia. She jumped to avoid a collision and fell down the stairs.
Two days later, I made some hot soup for Barsha’s mother. I went to her flat. She was on the bed with blue and black patches on her thighs and back. She was very lucky (or insanely strong for that matter) that she didn’t have any of her bones fractured. She tried to sit up on the bed. I helped her and then fed her the soup. She finally said in a very faint voice, “Why did you untie her?” “I’m ashamed and genuinely sorry for what I’ve done.” I replied. From that day onwards, I promised myself that I would never interfere between ma and daughter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sleep baby sleep

One fair weather night it was ten o’clock. Me and my husband were sitting side by side holding our hands. Our son Pakku was playing with his entire fleet of vehicles. I asked Pakku “Come on baby, it is time to sleep”. He looked at me surprisingly and said “Now!”. My husband said “Come on Pakku let us go to bed”, and his reaction was same “Now!” I gave up and told to my husband “It is a very difficult task to make a baby sleep. You may go to bed.” Unknowingly I hurt my husband’s ego. He said, “OK. Let me try. I will make him sleep.”
He called his son, “Pakku come on. I want to talk to you.” The little fellow rushed to his father’s outstretched arms. He asked the kid very lovingly. “Do you want to see an engine?” I jumped up, “What do you mean by ‘Engine’?” I know one thing for sure, that my son was extremely fascinated by engines.

Both of them got ready and so did I. We went to Hardwar railway station, which was about 11 Km away from our home. It was ten thirty at night. We purchased platform tickets and entered the station. The last train had just departed. The platform was almost empty. Only one Diesel Locomotive was standing at one end of the platform. Father and son were busy exploring the engine. There was an engine driver who was a friendly person and took interest in them. I love to drink tea made at the railway station. We spent some time and returned. On the way back Pakku fell asleep on my lap.

As soon as we stepped in, Pakku’s father gave a victorious smile and said, “Look, I made him sleep.”
Now whenever Pakku did not want to sleep he asked his father to show him the engine.
One night I had a bad headache. I lied down on the bed. My son was busy with his drawing book. He was spreading all his assets like crayons, color pencils, drawing sheets, etc. I asked my husband to make him sleep. He said to Pakku, “Come on Pakku. Mom is not well. Let us help her.” Pakku asked, “How?” He said “Let us sleep peacefully so that she feels better.” He readily agreed and packed up all his stuff.
Then they lied down on the bed, covered themselves with a blanket, hugged and kissed each other, and turned off the light. Then Pakku asked, “Baba! How does the sleep come?” He thought for a while and said, “This is a natural Process.”

“How nature will tell me?”

“It does not tell you, it just comes like dreams.”

“Do you see the dreams?”

“Yes I do.”

“What do you see in the dreams?”

“Hmm... Sometimes rain or trees or flowers...”

“You mean nature.”

“Yeah! Do you also see the dreams?”

“Yes I do.”

“What do you see?”


“What Nature?”

“The moon.”

“Why not stars?”

“Because Ma says stars are too far and I’m too small. Do you see the stars?”


“How does it look like? Small or very big?”



“zzz ... zzz ... zzz ...”

“Baba! Baba!”, Pakku called. But there was no response. Then he crawled up to me. I saw his face. He said “Baba has fallen asleep.” He had the same victorious smile he had on his face as his father had a few days ago.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chronicles of the Missing Key

The day was Saturday and the time was 7:30 in the evening. Me, my husband and our three year old son had a dinner invitation at our friend Probir & Maloti’s place. They also had a three year old son – a couple of months older than ours. At their place we met Dr. Rajiv Dhusia, his wife Sucheta and their son of the same age group. The three boys got busy in some game immediately. The three men got busy with cricket on TV and drinks. We three ladies got busy chatting. After a while Maloti started preparing dinner for us, so Sucheta and I were helping her in cutting and chopping while we continued our chatting. We had a nice time together.
It was 11 o’ clock and the children were feeling sleepy after dinner. It was time to go back. We wished each other good night and my husband started his scooter. While adjusting my self with my sleepy baby on the pillion I asked him “Do you have the key with you?” “No” he said “It must be with you as you were the one who left the flat last.” I got down and stared to search the key in my purse. He also put the scooter on stand and started searching his pockets. No, neither I nor he had the key. We went back to Maloti’s living room. This time the men and the children also joined in the search. The chair cushions were moved, the divan mattress was lifted but the key could not be seen. The divan and all the furniture were moved to see if it might have slipped behind. There was still no trace of the key. We then moved to Maloti’s bedroom. Kitchen was also not spared. Her beautifully set home was ransacked – all in vain. Suddenly Maloti said “Mini, you and Sucheta had gone to her flat to fetch the cold drinks. Any chance you might have left your key in her flat?” I along with the two ladies and three children went there but could not find the key. I wanted to cry on my absentmindedness.
Back in front of Maloti’s flat my husband shouted in anger “This is the third lock I have to break in six months.” I was at the end of my wits too. I also screamed in full volume “No, this will be the second one in six months, because the first one was broken eight months ago.” We started to quarrel and blame each other. Quietly the doctor family moved away. It was almost 12 o’ clock in the night and my son was sleeping on my lap. My husband asked Probir “Please give me a hammer or something like that for breaking the lock.” Probir said “Wait, I will also come with you.” and took a hammer and chisel. Our flat was in sector 2 about 5 km from their place. At midnight, with no traffic on the road, we reached our place within minutes.
When we reached our apartment, the security guard opened the main gate. We climbed the stairs and when we were in front of our flat, we saw the key was stuck inside the lock and the door of our flat was open. Probir started laughing loudly and my husband frowned at me. I went inside and found that every thing was intact and our belongings were safe. I thanked my stars, our security and our neighbors. I came out and saw Probir and my husband were still laughing. Probir said “Good morning Mini it is past midnight now.” He had a hammer in one hand and a chisel in the other. I could some how utter “Sorry Probir da.” and slipped inside our flat.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The First Report Card

My younger son had started to go to prep school. Unlike my elder son, who was very willing to go to school, the younger one was not at all interested in going to school. He had literally ragged us when we tried to get him admitted in Delhi Public School at Haridwar. Any way that is a different story, but finally he was in the prep section of DPS Haridwar. Every morning he would scream and cry as I pushed him on the school bus. I could hear him cry “Maa....” as the bus left and the cry would touch my heart. I had to act tough as I knew that schooling was very important for building up his future, but my mother heart used to weep after coming back from the bus stop. I knew that he would be alright with passage of time.

Five months passed. It was November. After a good festive season of Durgapuja and Diwali, the children were tortured with half yearly examinations. After the exams, on the Parent – Teacher meeting day, I went to the school. I spent a lot of time in the senior wing where my elder son was studying - talking to the teachers, other children and their parents and saying Hi! – Hello to my friends. When I went to the junior section for the younger one’s report card, it was too late. His class teacher Seema ma’am had already left. We came back.

On the next afternoon, I was waiting for my younger son at the bus stop. The bus stopped and the younger one stepped out of the bus. His school bag was hanging on one shoulder, the water bottle was hanging on one side from his neck, his belt hook was opened and the two ends of the belt were dangling on both side. He was holding something in his hands and was chewing it. This was a normal site. He was always in a bad mood while going and returning from school. I picked him up in my arms and snatched the card he was chewing. He put his little arms around my neck and put his head on my shoulder. On reaching home, I put him down. He threw away his school bag on one corner of the room and was struggling to pull out his shoes. Now I took a look at the object he was chewing. OMG it was his first report card. He had chewed the report card from one fold like a crescent moon and a large portion was wet with his saliva. I was shocked. I asked him “Look! You have damaged an important document. Why did you chew it ?” Pat came his irritated reply “Baaki Pilloo ko khilaa do.” [Feed the rest of it to pilloo.] (Pilloo was our newly adopted pup) I said “This is very bad. Your teacher will punish you.” He was least bothered and continued his undressing act. I opened the card. Inside, no information was lost. His report card read as follows:

Class Activites: Avg
Physical Activities: Avg
Habbit / Manners / Punctuality: Avg
Social Behaviour: Good
Sense of Responsibility: Avg
Cleanliness: Avg
Muscular Coordination: Nil

I just could not believe it. “Muscular Coordination – Nil” The word Nil was written in blue ink and underlined with red ink. “What did the class teacher mean by Nil?. Medically speaking, no or nil muscular coordination should mean that one’s nervous system was damaged and or that the child was retarded – something was horribly wrong.” I mused. “Was there something wrong with my child? No no no!” I couldn’t think any further. I was perturbed. I could not make the hell out of what the class teacher Seema meant. My husband had gone to the office after his lunch much before the child was back from school. Those days we didn’t have any telephone in our home. All horrible thoughts were coming to my mind. I waited till 4 – O clock in the evening and was the first person to visit the sector dispensary where my doctor friend Mrs. Sarani Dutta used to sit. I walked into her chamber. She was a qualified doctor and mother of two and had known my kids since their birth. She should be able to understand my pitiable condition. Instead of presenting her my medical card like a patient, I showed her Piku’s report card. She was taken aback. “What’s the problem?” she asked. I showed her the last line – ‘Muscular coordination - Nil’ and very hopelessly asked “You know Piku since he was born. Do you think he has some medical problem? What is the meaning of this statement?” I almost choked. She touched my hand and said “Calm down. I know your Piku very well. He is a normal child. There is nothing wrong with him”. She went on “I think you should talk to Seema Agrawal directly. Perhaps she can explain why she wrote so or may be it was a mistake.” I was little assured by her kind words. I tried to get some reassurance from my husband when he came back from office, but he laughed it away and said “Don’t worry dear. It is not of any significance.” I thought no body was understanding my plight. I could not sleep through out the night.

Next day, after my hubby had gone to the office and the children to school, I went to the school and sought an appointment with Mrs. Seema Agrawal. I was waiting in the visitors lobby. After a while Seema came and asked “What happened Mrs. Banerjee?” I said “I want some explaination about my son’s report card, but please tell me first whether he is a normal child or not?” She said “Ofcourse, he a normal boy, and an excellent story teller as well.” Now I showed her the report card. She bounced back “Mrs. Banerjee! What did he do with the report card? He has eaten it?” I covered the missing area of the report card with my hand and pointed out the line ‘Muscular coordination – Nil’ I asked her “How can you explain this?” She explained “Look, we give the children some kind of project or some small things to do in the class. Few children do it very well and so as per school rules we grade them VG- Very Good, G-Good or Nil. Yes, I remember, your son did not do the project work given in the class at all, so I have graded him – nil. Secondly you have to pay a fine as you need a new report card.” I asked her “What kind of project work did you give the children?” She said “I had given them a chart paper and a paper cutting of a candle which they had to paste neatly on the chart paper. All the children submitted their work but Abhirup (Piku) did not submit his work.” I felt relaxed. I told Seema “Please change the word Muscular coordination to some thing else as medically it means different.” She said “Please give this suggestion to the school authorities”. “Sure I will” said I and returned home.

That evening, Piku was playing with Pilloo (Our newly adopted pup). The elder son was also playing with his friends in our compound. I called Piku “Piku! I want to talk to you.” He rushed to me and jumped on my lap. I asked him softly “Some kind of project work was given by your ma’am in the class – some candle or something – do you remember that?” He readily said “Yes, you know, ma’am gave us a big chart paper and you know my chart paper was of pink colour and Varun Gupta’s paper was yellow.” “Yes, but what did you do with that paper?” I asked. He said “Nothing.” I asked “Nothing? But what happened to the candle?”. He said “I pasted it on the desk and threw the chart paper in the dustbin. You know ma’am tells us to keep the class room clean.” I was amazed and asked “Why did you paste the candle on the desk? You should have pasted the candle on the chart paper.” He said “Oh mom! Our ma’am teaches us every day in that A B C rhyme .... XYZ ....Candles on my desk. So I pasted it on the desk.” Now I was truly RELAXED AND HAPPY.