Sunday, 16 August 2009

Pigs Fly, Swine Flu

Between diaper changes, hour-long feeds, and general housekeeping, I barely have the time to read the newspaper, let alone obssess about what's in it. So, i've been largely oblivious to the growing swine flu paranoia. Adiv and I went on our weekly trips to the farm, and I had my Bible class. Everyone I knew was well, and I had little reason to be apprehensive. Then suddenly, the death of a 4-year-old in Chennai caught my attention. Not very far from home, this little boy had succumbed to the H1N1 virus, and that news story planted the seed of fear in my heart. I began reading the newspaper, empathising with every victim, reading about their symptoms, and the ordeal they underwent. I tried memorizing names of hospitals we could go to, if we needed to get checked. Nevertheless, I prayed and hoped we'd never have to fight crowds for a single lifesaving dose of Tamiflu.

This paranoia grew quickly. The next day, I read about a 26-year-old school teacher who'd just been telling her students about the precautions they should take. After a brief battle, she'd passed away. Newspapers carried pictures of the victim, making this news story even more personal. I wondered about her children, her family, and how her death could have been prevented.

Then it got worse. We all had the sniffles. Adiv had fever for a day, and soon he was coughing. I started a low grade fever that was quelled with strong doses of Dolo 650. Then Pappa got very ill. He had high fever, a terrible cough and cold. When the crocin didn't help, he was taken to the doctor. Masked and ultra cautious, the doctor wrote him a few antibiotics and sent him back. The fever vanished almost immediately, only to return a day later. Then the paranoid doctor suggested that we get him tested for swine flu. Muttering prayers, and hoping for the best, he was the taken to Manipal hospital. There the doctor wasn't even remotely worried. He listened to his symptoms and sent him back saying he needed to finish his dose of medicines.
I spent the next few hours checking everyone's temperature in turns. Luckily, now everyone is well, and i'm making sure everyone washes their hands when they return from outside. We're being cautious as well, with limited trips to crowded places. Everyone is eating pods of garlic and cloves as a precaution, and the maid is being questioned repeatedly about her health.
This paranoia is probably here to stay for mothers of infants, but for the moment, i'm glad we are all fine.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Cruel Kids

Children are fun! With innocence so endearing, and their incessant chatter so amusing, they play the most innovative of games. Armed with an active imagination, and an insatiable need to play and entertain, they amuse all those around them. Between themselves they fight, make up, and play more games, but on the whole they are a species willing to learn and explore. However, despite being a fascinating lot, if unchecked, they are the most cruel of all species. At a party recently, I witnessed just that.


Adiv loves most kids, though he has a definite preference for older boys who appear cooler because of the games they play. However, if shown the slightest interest, he will do all that is needed to befriend them. However, being the youngest in both our families, he is used to a lot of pampering. His older cousins are very indulgent with him, giving him their toys, entertaining him with their antics, and amusing him with music and dance sessions. So Rohit and I felt he needed to interact with other kids as well; kids who'd not be as patient or generous as the kids he was used to. So I began these weekly trips to a nearby farm for a mother and toddler program, where he'd get to interact with other kids and a whole lot of farm animals.

Then another opportunity came by, when we were invited to a birthday party. As the party was in an uncle's house, we got there early under the pretext of helping. But Adiv was busy trying on all their shoes, and I was busy trailing him. In time the other kids and their mommies began arriving. Initially the kids were all fascinated by eachother. The ones who knew eachother formed groups, and smiled at the others. Then they wandered into the bedroom and began strumming on a guitar. Adiv wasn't too pleased. He trying to push the other kids away, and when they refused to budge, took refuge in some loud, angry crying. I distracted him with other toys, and the promise of a trip on a bike. He wanted to play with the kids, but he still wasn't used to kids who weren't giving in. I tried explaining that he needed to share the guitar. I told the older kids that he was only one-and-a-half, and so they needed to show him how to use the guitar and play. They didn't seem too keen on playing with him. So they ran away, and he ran behind them laughing. He followed them tirelessly, while they tried to avoid him. One little girl who wasn't in their circle, sat quietly on a table, wearing a sad, solemn face. The kids who'd formed a gang, danced around her calling her names.

"Hey, she looks like a sadhu yaa."

"No she looks a like a donkey na?"

The girl looked down, ignoring all their taunts. Adiv stood next to her, examining her bangles. "Very pretty bangles", I told her, evoking a smile in response. "Ma got it", she said. She smiled at Adiv gently, and looked up at the other kids who were screaming "Monster Monster", at Adiv. Adiv thought it was fun game and ran behind them. They tried pushing him away, but I was trailing him making sure they didn't hurt him. They screamed and yelled, and eventually began a shower of insults.

"Oh no, the stupid boy is back."

"Little boy, you are such an idiot."

I was stunned. None of the children I knew were so cruel. They were attacking a little child who was trying to join in in their games. He was smiling at them and running behind them, and they were calling him names.


I came away that evening in a state of shock. None of the kids we knew in the family ever spoke so badly. They fought like all kids, but never called eachother names. I'd never seen them bully the quieter kids. When they had birthdays, they made sure all their guests were cared for. I had to make sure Adiv was like them. I wasn't going to allow bad language or bullying, but I'd have to encourage concern and friendship. I'd have to let him know that there was nothing cool about using bad language.

I realized suddenly that i was soon approaching a phase when i'd have to explain right from wrong. I'd have to set examples at home, applaud all goodness, and discourage all wrong doing. The little one was growing up and he needed the right lessons to grow in to a sensitive, considerate, smart, intelligent young man.

In the mean time, I'd also have to reconcile to the fact that not everyone was going to be good to my child.