Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Special Place Away From Home

Our month-long holiday is coming to an end, and my parents are already dreading the prospect of saying goodbye to their adored grandson. It was an eventful month, with Adiv entertaining and touching them with his amusing banter, and his frequent demonstrations of love. He would sing them songs, stage mock boxing matches, cuddle up beside them to watch Ceebeebies, make demands that would invariably be met, and tell them at regular intervals that he loved them. However, he was just as vocal with his displeasure when disciplined, staying mad for a few seconds in the bedroom, before emerging again with a wide grin. "Now I'm happy" he'd say, followed by "I won't do it again." With my Dad he played amusing games. They played running and catching, boxing and racing games with his toy cars. They'd even sit around playing computer games, an addiction that Adiv has now passed on to my Dad. While my Dad was the more indulgent one who catered to every whim of his, my mom was the slightly more strict one. Though she allowed him the pleasure of jumping on to a pile of cushions or playing with water, she also had rules about what wasn't allowed. She baked with him, read to him (enacting out every scene) and brought back surprises every time she went out. He watched movies with them, drank pretend tea (water in a little cup) when they drank their tea, and insisted that they always talk TO him. He played games in tents my Dad made with bedsheets and duppattas, ocassionally even stopping to play doctor, giving injections to anyone in sight.He enjoyed going out with them; be it a trip to the beach or store, or visits to their friends homes. Everywhere he went, he demanded complete attention. On one of those trips, he'd even taken on the task of playing host, when he attempted to serve the actual hosts. "Please eat something", he said politely while simultaneously enjoying the noodles that was specially made for him. And when it was time to leave, he'd given the hosts generous hugs and the promise of coming again.
Adiv loves coming to Chennai, because here he is loved unconditionally. He entertains and amuses everyone from my parents, to the watchman, to the maid. This kind of importance was something anyone could get used to! With my parents Adiv shares a bond that had begun before he was born. They marvelled at his perfection when they first saw him during a scan. After he was born they were ecstatic grandparents who'd spent several sleepless nights singing to him. They took turns rocking him when he was collicky, and carried him from room to room showing him the pictures on the wall, the pigeons on the tree outside and the colors in his room.
As a child, my equivalent of this place had been Calcutta. I was born there, because my aunt who was a doctor lived in Calcutta. So my earliest memories of myself take me to Calcutta, where I played, entertained, threw tantrums, and was myself. I have memories of taking the rickshaw to the market with my aunt, walking to a nearby park, and standing on a stool to look at a baker writing out my name in icing on a beautiful cake. In that house, I played pretend games with my doll, listened to everyones heartbeat with my aunt's sthetescope, and hung from the window talking about friends, school and life. Years later, I still think fondly about my aunt's house, as Adiv probably will think about my home in Chennai years later.
However, for the moment he is in two minds about his return to Bangalore. While he is anxious to get back to Dada, he is not too sure about leaving Ammamma and Pappa behind. However, he secretly enjoys knowing that he will be missed when he leaves. "I will come again", he assures my parents, also adding that he'll need new terms of endearment when he does.

Friday, 22 April 2011

New Friend

Adiv is afraid of policemen, though he is privately in awe of them. He loves that a policeman can put "bad" people behind bars, and shoot them if they attempt to run away (I confess he has been watching a lot of TV). However, as much as he admires them (even playing policeman from time to time), he is also very scared of them. Afterall, they had "blood guns" (his noisy toy guns paled in comparison) and handcuffs. Also, he had fears of getting arrested, because he wondered if policemen went after little boys who misbehaved from time to time.

Despite the blistering sun, we'd gone out today to shop, when my Dad called us back saying a policeman was waiting for my mom (who was also out with us). My parents wanted to get their passports renewed. The policeman who had shown up, had come to verify the details provided, and fill his wallet with a few crisp notes that would discreetly be pushed into his eager hands. We rushed back as soon as my Dad called, though Adiv wasn't too keen on returning just yet. He insisted on going to the beach or a toystore, when Ro told him that a policeman was waiting for him at home.
"He is coming to see you", said Ro.
"Why? I am good now."
"Didn't you throw a tantrum yesterday?"
"No", said Adiv beginning to look a little nervous.
"I'm not scared of jail", he said suddenly with an air of forced bravado.
"Good. You'll enjoy it then", Ro played along.
By the time we got home, he was apprehensive about getting in. He hid behind me, and seemed visibly relieved when he didn't find the policeman at home.
"Where is the policeman" he whispered to my Dad.
"He'll be back", replied my Dad. "Don't worry. He is a good man", he assured Adiv.
Adiv then ran into the bedroom, jumped on the bed, and said, "I am sooo scared." He ran into the living room and back every few seconds, checking to see if the policeman had returned. When I threatened to tell the policeman about a tantrum the previous day, he wept piteously saying, "I don't want to go to jail." We quickly assured him saying we would never let anyone take away a good boy. And if anyone tried it, we would fight them like the power rangers. That assurance had brought on a smile. "Red power ranger or blue power ranger", he continued, briefly forgetting about the policeman.

When the policeman finally made an appearance, Adiv was feeling brave. He tiptoed into the living room and sat down beside my Dad. The policeman ignored him and focused on the papers in front. The lack of a gun had made him less intimidating, and Adiv decided he could smile at him. When he got no response, he began talking.
"I am a good boy."
"Hello. Yes", responded the policeman, looking rather disinterested.
"I don't throw any tantrums."
We agreed vehementally, though we were mighty amused. A small smile appeared on the man's tired face.
"I also drink my complan every day", continued Adiv.
By then, the policeman seemed rather confused. He turned to my dad who explained what was going on. Once he understood his fears, he smiled at Adiv, shook hands with him, and assured him that he had nothing to fear. Adiv let out a sigh of relief, and looked at us with an expression that said, "Now this policeman is my friend, and you better be careful." He jumped around happily, before saying to the man, "You please take Ammamma (my mom) away." The man responded with a big smile and agreed to put Ammamma in jail, when Adiv changed his mind again. "Don't take anyone", he said gently. Now that they were friends, he assumed he could make these recommendations. The man agreed again, thereby cementing their friendship. The man sat down for a few more minutes and exchanged pleasantries before getting up to leave. Much to our amusement, Adiv and the man even gave eachother elaborate goodbyes.

So, policeman's visit had gone well, with Adiv getting rid of his unwarranted fears, and the man feeling richer (my dad had slipped him a few notes). Adiv announced that the policeman was his friend now, and that he wasn't scared. However, when Ro reminded him that he was going to Bangalore soon, Adiv decided he'd have to try and befriend the policemen in Bangalore as well.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Seasonal Friends

As a group we didn't have a lot in common. Our interests were as varied as our aspirations and backgrounds. Nonetheless, we'd all met at work, bonding over long coffee breaks and frequent trips to the loo (yes, we women travel to the loo in packs, catching up on entertaining gossip while simultaneously powdering our faces and reapplying lipstick). We helped eachother with work, saw one through a painful divorce, saw another through a broken relationship, supported one who hadn't got her well-deserved promotion, and cheered another who was in process of finding "the one"! We celebrated birthdays, prayed for eachother, posed for numerous pictures, and engaged in laughing fits long after office hours. We shared our food and our lives, and gave ourselves amusing pet names. We went out eating,drinking, and having fun, but were also very involved in eachothers lives. The group was there blending in with family, and cheering me on when I got engaged. And once married, we gave eachother culinary tips and other marital advice.

As with a lot of relationships that go well, I hoped our friendship would survive the changes that came with changing priorities. This was a group that had made work interesting for me. I'd initially been sceptical about joining the company on account of the work they did. I was technologically challenged, and ill-suited for a company that did only technology-based projects. Despite announcing that the only Java I knew was the island in Indonesia, (Java script was beyond my comprehension even with help from patient subject matter experts) I'd been offered the job. Surprisingly, I hadn't fared too badly, and I'd begun enjoying work once I made these friends.

Then the changes began. I was the first to get married and leave. I still kept in touch via e-mails and calls, but once Adiv was born, he became my priority. In time others got married and eventually became mothers, while the rest acquired new jobs and new friends. We still sent eachother ocassional e-mails, even meeting up during holidays to see babies, attend family functions and gossip over lunch. Gradually the phone calls became fewer, as did our meetings.

Till two weeks ago, I didn't realize that the friendship was actually over. We had all moved on to better things, and didn't really need eachother to lean on and confide in. Though we decided to meet, the meeting hadn't happened. After the initial disappointment, I understood that I didn't need the group as much as I had needed them years ago. They'd helped me laugh, but they'd also taught me acceptance and sharing, aiding me in my emotional growth. They had supported me emotionally and spiritually when I needed it. However we'd all moved on since then. Now it was time to focus on current relationships, and those that had lasted, while gently letting go of those that would only be part of some very happy memories.