Monday, March 18, 2019

Birthday Roast

Once there was a curious little boy who was always busy collecting pebbles and twigs and leaves and…well, you name it. One day while walking through the shrubs and trees behind his house he found two small PVC tubes. Inquisitive as he was, he tried to put one into the other to make it one long pipe. But alas! They were of the same size. 

“I need to weld this!” he said aloud. He had once seen some plumbers doing something similar.

He went inside the house. He peeked into his grandfather’s room. He was lying on the bed, snoring softly. Under the bed was a brass oil lamp and a matchbox. Soft-footed as he always was, he slipped into the room and took the lamp and matches without a sound. 

After getting out of the house stealthily, he looked for a safe place to carry out his experiment. The clearing behind the gigantic haystack looked like a good spot.  He placed his loot on the ground and began his efforts. He was almost done when he started feeling very hot. 

He turned around and to his shock, the large haystack in the clearing was on fire! He covered his mouth with his little hands and ran into his grandfather's old furniture workshop which now served as a storeroom. He hid behind an old bed and was safe for the time being.

Meanwhile, a neighbour noticed the blazing fire and created a hue and cry that attracted the entire neighborhood into the compound. The boy’s mother who had been sweeping the courtyard came running. The sleeping grandfather woke up and trudged to the backyard. He saw the gazillion neighbours and his daughter-in-law pouring buckets of water at the fire. His little granddaughter was running around looking aghast and excited in equal measure. 

“What’s all this? Where’s that boy?” he barked in his hoarse voice.

At this everyone turned around and the little boy’s mother yelled, “Kanna!”

“Oh no! Put out the fire fast” screamed a neighbour and buckets and water went flying high to tame the fire. His mother was worried, so was everyone else.

“Kanna, kanna, mone…” rang in the air as everyone chanted the boy’s pet name while putting out the fire. 

Little Kannan was safe in the shed. He could hear the racket and smell the smoke. Now is the time, he thought. There is only one way to escape the wrath of his grandfather. He took a deep breath, crawled out from his hiding place and dashed through the middle of the crowd, into the house, wailing loudly. 

“Oh Kannan is here” the crowd rejoiced!

The boy threw himself on the bed and pushed out copious tears. His mother who followed him in cried, "Thank god you are safe! What nonsense were you doing?” Kannan looked up. She had obviously softened. He turned around to look at his grandfather who walked in with a grunt, mumbling under his breath. 

Kannan’s crocodile tears had worked, he had escaped punishment. But what he couldn’t escape was the nickname he won following this incident – Vaikkolthoru Kannan (Haystack Kannan). Sounds wrong on every level, doesn’t it?

It is a nickname that has stood the test of time and if you happen to be around * temple in Thrissur, ask for Vaikkolthoru Kannan and someone will happily direct you to our place. 

Happy birthday dear darling husband! Cakes and gifts are passe, roasts are the new birthday thing! I love you and you know that too! :D 

A fun activity for my readers (if any!).

The little boy as a baby

The boy now

Spot little Vaikkolthoru Kannan in this pic!

Post your answers in the comments and win my love and good wishes!
* Temple cannot be named. If I do, I may get not just roasted but barbecued.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lessons from a role model

Know the value
It was a special day for the little sisters aged just 6 and 4. They were getting their first ever doll that could blink and whose limbs you could move. They stood quietly in the shop after they chose the one they liked. After what seemed like forever, the doll was bought and they named her ‘Dimple’. As they admired their most prized possession, their father held them close and told them with a smile, “It costs 75 rupees. It is expensive. Be careful with it, ok?”
“Sure!” chorused the little girls and Dimple remained their favourite doll for years to come. 

Be kind
A six year old girl told her father about her discovery of the day. Well, what was it? She had two sweets, asked her friend if she wanted one and the friend said yes and took one! The little girl called her friend greedy, took back the sweet and saved the day. The girl narrated the incident with pride. Her father gently but firmly told her that she had been really rude and that she owed her friend an apology and a sweet. ‘Be kind to everyone and never take back what you have given’, he told her with a smile, at least thrice that evening.  

Mind your language
An 8 year old girl was speaking to her friend on the phone.
“Well, did you got it? Ok then, bye!”
Her father turned around from the chair where he was reading the newspaper and said, “Minu, it is ‘did you get it’, not ‘got it’. Remember, ‘did’ is followed by a present tense verb. Always!”
On another occasion he told her the formula to never confuse the spellings of ‘dairy’ and ‘diary’. Dairy or milk is what you get daily. So remember – Daily-Dairy. The other one is diary. 

When in doubt, laugh it out
Two little sisters couldn’t get their homework right. They were messing it all up and crying out loud for not being able to do it. Instead of scolding, their father who had been assigned to help them out by their mother, was laughing at their distress. This annoyed the little girls even further. “But your antics are so funny! Haha! See, this is how you do it.” He explained everything calmly and couldn’t help breaking into laughs whenever one whined. By the end of it all, the girls were laughing too. 

Keep calm and move on
A young woman was turning the house upside down in search of her ID Card which she needed for an examination the next day. As it was a Sunday, she couldn’t go to the study centre either to get a duplicate. Both parents and daughter looked up every nook and cranny but it was LOST. She was in tears. After some gyaan on keeping things safe and not waiting till the last moment, the father told her, “Just relax. Go to the exam venue with your hall ticket and write the exam.”
“But it’s clearly written on the hall ticket that you will be debarred if you don’t produce your ID card!” she wailed.
“So? Is there anything else you can do now? Just go and trust me, everything will be okay.”
Like he had predicted, the invigilator turned out to be a kind man who allowed her to write the exam and advised her to get the duplicate ID the same day for the upcoming exam. 

I can go on and on about the things our father has imbibed in us, but these are some incidents that are as clear as daylight in my memory. They also capture the essence of everything he has taught us – the value of kindness, laughter, money, composure and perfection. My father has taught us not just to love, laugh and let go but also to fall, falter and fail gracefully.  I can’t thank him enough for being what he is and I also know thank-yous are unnecessary between parents and children. 

On your birthday today, Acha, I wish you many, many more years of joy, adventure and good health. May your love for travel take you to many more beautiful places around the world. Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep growing. 

We love you to the moon and back! Have an amazing birthday :) 

On my wedding eve

Friday, March 8, 2019

A day in life

It is Friday, the Sunday of the Arab world. I get up at 9 (a Friday ritual), tiptoe to the bathroom to brush, and quietly make my way to the kitchen. Upma it is, I decide – my quickest and fuss-free recipe for a lazy Friday. I gobble it down with black tea, do a few preps for lunch and go back to check on the baby. 

He is up and playing with daddy dearest and has already brushed his little teeth. He demands to be bathed by dad (his Friday ritual). I sink into my comfy chair with my phone while I hear them splashing and laughing in the bath. Then I see the message from a friend, ‘Happy Women’s Day’ and wishes go back and forth until 5 minutes later, the son emerges from the bathroom doing a little jig.

Then there is no time to waste. I toss the phone on the table, dress him up and serve him his favourite oats porridge with a generous topping of raisins. This chore done, father and son are left to play while I finish the other tasks for the day. 

Lunch, Dirty dishes, Laundry. Check, check and check. 

We have lunch together, the baby is fed, a second pile of dishes is done, and we are back in the bedroom for the afternoon nap. As I type this, the two most special men in my life are sleeping soundly. I am thinking of the third, my father, who must either be sleeping or reading whatsapp jokes on the phone right now. And what would my mother be doing? 

Probably deciding what to cook for lunch tomorrow. Or cleaning, or gardening, or may be taking care of my sister’s baby or perhaps cooking? Whatever it is, surely not relaxing. Just like every other mother. Always busy, always on the go, always worrying, always wondering how she can be of help. 

And it occurs to me how easily and seamlessly we get into the mould of our mothers once we have our own kids. ‘I’ and ‘me’ are pushed into some far corner to make more room for this little entity entirely dependent on us. That is how we have all flourished, with plenty of love and care and space to grow that our parents, especially our mothers have given us. 

This Women’s Day, my wish to all women – whether married or single, ambitious or unambitious, is this: take care of your health – drink water, have proper food, take rest when needed, stop to breathe, pamper yourself and let the guilt go. If you have good health and good old grit by your side, there is no force in this universe that can stop you from achieving what you want. 

Let’s celebrate ourselves each day for being the brilliant light in the life of people around us. And let us acknowledge being special shamelessly. 

As I try to round off  this post with a punch line, I see my son sitting up in bed with a grin and so I must rush, we are going to the park today. I leave you to enjoy this fantastic quote by the fantastic William Golding, that a friend shared today.

Happy Us Day, women!  :)