My little rock stars

Memoirs of my mommyhood


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Sweet nothings

Tunmun makes everyone feel special.

She strikes poses in clothes stitched by Dadi.

She sings and performs for Dadu, who then rewards her with sweets.

As for dad, anything will do.

“Whose jaan are you Tunmun?”

Tumre” (i.e. tumhare which means yours. Thats the final bit of baby talk remaining in her)

“Show me the universe !”

And Tunmun promptly opens her mouth as the dad peeps in.

The bro gets unflinching loyalty. She refuses to buy ice cream if Bhaiya cannot eat one.

What about the Mamma? Yesterday as Tunmun prepared to go to bed,  she said,

“Mamma I don’t want to grow up and be like you.”

What! Am I such a negative example?

“Why Tunmun?”

“I don’t want to grow up.” She repeated.

“But why??”

“I want to remain little so that you are with me. I will miss you when I grow up.”

“So what? I will become little and you will be my Mamma!”

“No. You cannot become little. I know!”

Uh! She knows now that we cannot grow backwards! Another sign she is not a baby anymore!

“OK. But why won’t be I with you?”

Tunmun remains silent. Venky chimes in.

“Yes. Mamma will be old but she will still be there!”

“Yes, like Dadi. I will be with you even after you grow up.” I said.

“But your Mamma is not here. You miss her!”

Silence.

“Uhmmm. Yes. But I will be with you even after you grow up. If you want me to.”

Tunmun hugs me.

“I always want to be your baby Mamma!”

I sigh as I hug her back. I want you to remain my baby too. But time has wings. And so will you, my sweetheart!


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To the point.

In the boys’ gang of our colony, Venky is probably the youngest. He ends up playing team games like cricket and basketball with boys 7 – 8 years senior to him. Hence, we often find him fielding and goal keeping while the other boys are playing with his bat and ball! Venky does not mind the arrangement, but as parents ( and grandparents ) we feel he is getting exploited. We also do not want to interfere amongst the kids so we do the next best thing – nag Venky.

“Why do you have to take the ball every time ? Ask other kids to bring the ball!”

“They bring the ball too!” Venky tries to defend.

A couple of days back, Venky was bought a Kashmir willow cricket bat. Vibhu being a cricket fan himself gets possessive about the cricket props.

“Venky, this is a very high quality expensive bat. Please take care of it.”, said Vibhu.

“Do not give it to other kids to play!” chimed in grandpa.

“Why not?” Venky did not like the advice.

“Because they will spoil it.” I answered.

“They will not.”

“They will. It is your stuff, you should take care of it!” I replied.

“Those are such big boys. They should bring their own bats. They just exploit you and use your stuff.” Grandpa accused.

“Nothing like that! They also bring their bats!” Venky was getting frustrated with our allegations on his friends.

“Venky, you have to take responsibility of your stuff. It is your bat, you should take care of it. Please do not let others use it!” I nagged further.

“OK! What’s the point? I should take care, or I should not share?”

Vibhu and I exchanged looks.

“You should take care.” Both of us answered in a low voice. We knew we were beaten.

“OK! Don’t worry. I will!” Venky answered with finality.

Our lessons in yielding control has already begun!


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Feminism comes a full circle

“Tunmun, what do want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to be a Mamma!”

“You want to be a Mamma?!” I couldn’t hide my amazement.

“Yes, and I want to have two kids..”

“Oh…” I mumbled.

“One cat and one monkey!”

“Wow!” I shook my head in wonder.

“No, three actually. One crocodile too!”

Great! My daughter’s ambition is to become a mother ( Never mind her choice of kids) . So much for her mother waging a war against women being stereotyped with domesticity! On the positive side, I must be doing a pretty good job of being a Mamma for my little D to make it her ambition!


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Life is made up of moments

I love bedtimes.

Both the kids lie in my either arms. It is the time for stories. I find it hard to dig up childhood stories from the folds of my memories. I usually make up stories on the fly. The characters are close in personality to my kids. Some stories have morals. Some are funny. Some are incidents from my own childhood. The kids listen intently with their arms and legs around me. They ask questions, make observations, laugh … The stories are followed by songs. For a long time the songs were the following.

Then, Tunmun protested and asked for unique songs. I resorted to Bollywood hits. Now the lullabies are Kishore Kumar hits.

Somewhere between the songs, the kids doze off. My songs fall off to hums and then silence. The sound of my kids’ even breathing fills the room. As I hold the kids in both my arms waiting for their slumber to deepen before I remove them, I cannot help counting my blessings. This moment fills my heart and soul. The kids’ sleep deepens, but I stay on. It will not be long before they stop needing the stories and the lullabies. They will not want to be cuddled and hugged to sleep. I try to tightly hold on to the sands of time as they slip fast through my fingers.

Hence, I linger on. A few more seconds in these precious moments…


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Cinderella meets the new age little girl

Some things don’t change. Fairy tales is one of them. I kept Tunmun away from princesses and their tales, but the world got to her. Just like Barbies and high heels, Tunmun heard about Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow white etc. Come one night, she wanted to know their story.

“Mamma, tell me Cinderella’s story.”

“Hmm.. Ok, let me think…”

“What mommy, you don’t know Cinderella’s story?” Asked a visibly shocked Venky.

“I know, I know… Ok, here you go.”

“There was a girl called Cinderella, she lived with her..”

“Stepmom and step sisters!” Tunmun chimed in.

“What is a step mom?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

Ok, she lived with her aunt and her daughters because her parents had died when she was little. The aunt and her sisters were mean to her. They would not send her to school and made her do all the house work. She always wore old clothes and looked ragged and dirty.

“Why couldn’t she wear nice clothes?”

“Because she did not have the money. Ok, so one day, the prince of the kingdom threw a party and invited everyone. Her aunt and sisters wore nice clothes and went away. Cinderella had to stay at home.”

Both my kids were intently listening.

Cinderella was feeling sad about missing the party. So, fairy godmother took pity on her and appeared. She changed Cinderella’s dress through magic and changed the pumpkin into a carriage so that she could go to the party. Cinderella was happy now. As she rode to the prince’s palace on her carriage, she passed by a hotel. She found an sign on that hotel which said “Vacancies available. We need housekeepers who can cook and clean well. Stay and food will be provided by the hotel.”

“Wait! Something is wrong!” Venky shouted.

“What is wrong?”

“You have changed something.”

“Nah. This is the real story! Now listen!”

“This is what I do all day and do not get paid anything.” Thought Cinderella.

The carriage rushed ahead and reached the palace. The palace was decorated beautifully. There was song and music. Every one was enjoying. Cinderella went inside but could not focus on the party. She kept thinking about the sign on the hotel. She was lost in her thoughts when the song changed and the prince came to her.

“Oh, beautiful girl, will you dance with me?” The prince asked.

Cinderella looked at him for a while and answered,

“No! I need to go somewhere!”

She then ran out of the palace and asked the carriage driver to take her to that hotel. Cinderella knocked at the hotel door and asked about the job. The hotel owner asked her demonstrate her skills. Cinderella cooked and cleaned with ease. The owner was impressed with her skills and offered her the job.

“You will have to wear the uniform young lady and stay here at the hotel.”

“Oh yes. That will be great!” Cinderella said.

“Well, you can start tomorrow.” The owner said.

“How will I come? This carriage is not mine!” Cinderella was worried.

“I will send a carriage for you. Be ready by 8 am sharp. Give me your address.”

Cinderella went home happy. Her sisters and aunt came home late. Cinderella couldn’t sleep with excitement. She got ready early in the morning and wore her uniform. She packed all her things, though there were not too many. When her sisters and aunt woke up, they were upset to see that Cinderella had not cleaned up and not made their morning coffee. They banged the door of her room with anger. Cinderella looked at the clock. It was almost 8. She looked out from her window and saw her carriage standing. She opened the door of her room. Her aunt and sisters were shocked to see her in an uniform, carrying her bag.

“Thank you for letting me stay in your home all this while. I have decided to not burden you anymore. I have found a job and I am moving out now.” Cinderella said calmly and left the house.

“She did not marry the prince?” Asked Venky.

“Nope.”

“Then how did she live happily ever after?”

“She worked hard at the hotel and got promoted fast. Soon she opened a hotel of her own. Then another and then another. She became the CEO of a chain of hotels. That is how she lived happily ever after.”

“Mommy, I am sure you have changed the story!” Venky laughed.

“Nope. This is the real story. Now go sleep my babies.”

After the kids fell asleep, I told the story to Vibhu. He laughed and said I was going overboard with feminism. But I really hate this “wait for prince when in trouble” business. I have now made my own versions of other fairy tales. I call it the “Cut the prince” series. Hmmm.. maybe I am going a little overboard. As long as it helps drive the point of self reliance into my little D, I don’t mind the feminism overdose! :D


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Defeated

When Venky gets invited to a birthday party, he is a stickler for time. He wants to get to the party as soon as he can. As a result, he often ends up being the first guest. A couple of times, we have also arrived the venue before the hosts have.

Today, the kids got invited to a birthday within the colony. The invite card said 4pm – 6pm. Venky as usual insisted on going to the party at 4 pm.

“You will go at 4.30 pm.” I declared.

“Why? The party starts at 4.”

“Because no one arrives so soon. Sometimes the hosts are also not ready.”

“But the card says 4 pm.”

“But this is India. No one comes at the given time. The hosts also mean 4.30 when they say 4.”

“How do you know they mean 4.30?”

“Venky, you are always the first guest. Remember the last party? You arrived before the hosts!”

“But they arrived within the next 5 minutes!”

“Venky, you will go at 4.30. That is it!” I was getting frustrated with the argument.

“That is not fair mommy!”

“Venky, No one will come at four!”

“Alright, then I will go as soon as I see other kids going!”

“Alright, do one thing. Get ready at 4 and stand with your gift in the balcony. As soon as you see the first child going, RUN!” I was thoroughly irritated.

“You only say that we should be punctual and respect time!” Venky said in a small voice. He understood the sarcasm.

“Well, this is India. This is how it works, especially in Hyderabad!” I softened.

“Don’t you say that if no one does the right thing first, how will others follow and how will things change. Some one has to start!”

I was speechless. It was my word against mine! I accepted defeat. Venky went to the birthday party at 4.

For the record, this is the first time a holder of Y chromosome has out witted me ;). Thankfully it’s my son!


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Fashion Sense

I am a what you would call a ‘jhalli’. My favorite attire is jeans and T shirt. When I try to dress up, I start looking stupid. But not my daughter! She cannot wait to grow up because she knows that then she can do what she wants. So, most of our mall trips are spluttered with questions like,

“Mamma, can I have shoes like that girl when I grow up?”

I take a look. The shoe in question is invariably a high heeled one. I want to say “No way!”, but I bite my tongue.

“Of course sweetheart. But high heeled shoes are bad for health and legs.” I try to deter her.

“But I love them!”

I sigh and postpone worrying about it till she grows up.

“Mamma, can I have bags like these when I grow up?”

“Of course sweetheart!” Bags are harmless, except for the price tags they carry.

“Mamma, why don’t you have a bag?”

“Uh, because I like to be hands free.” I usually have a wallet in my jeans.

“Mamma, you have a boy’s purse. It is so funny. Hee hee.”

Then, there are negotiations on her hair. She wants to keep it open. I insist on tying them so that they do not keep falling into her eyes. There was an engagement ceremony in the family recently, and people pampered her with kajal, blusher etc. She was allowed to keep her hair loose through the day. The next day, she negotiated tough with me to keep her hair open but I put my foot down.

“Alright Mamma, but can you at least put kajal for me?”, asked Tunmun in a small voice.

I agreed and sealed the deal.

So here is my daughter, who recently enlightened me on how girls do “fashion”

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And how boy’s do “fashion”

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Then her brother tried to compete with her.

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