About the first born




Much has been written about the aspiring animator, the junior son. Even more has been written about the Lord and Master. A couple of blogs have been dedicated to the goofy dog Goofy too. But the geek, the coder, the senior son, my first born (all one and the same) so far has got only a mention here and there in passing. Before accusing fingers are raised and cries of partiality rent the air, let me do the needful to rectify matters.
By the way did you hear sort of whooooosh just now followed by a thunkkk?? If you have, don’t give it a thought. I rather think I have moved the senior son enough for him to take in a sharp breath followed closely by the dropping to the floor of the lower jaw of his that has come unhinged from its moorings (courtesy Plum). Rather hardhearted of me, giving him shocks, considering that it is his birthday today. Ahh well, a mother has to do her bit in shaking up her children now and then so they thereby become better and more spiritual persons (courtesy Plum again).
It is hard to believe it is a quarter century since he has been around. It seems like yesterday he was screaming his head off, keeping everyone awake. Sleeping uninterrupted for one whole night was a dream for me that finally came true when he was two and a half years old. His penchant and love for language manifested itself early enough through his love for his ABC books. While a wee tot, after he was bathed and got ready, he would take out his ABC book and turning to me ask sweetly with a questioning look,
“ABC book??”
He would answer himself too,
ABC book!
Then he would smartly walk away. I bet he thought he was conversing in English. It was such an amusing sight. Eventually, ‘ABC book’ became a term to mean ‘excellent’ in our household.
“How’s the pudding?”
“ABC book!!”
“How was the movie?”
“ABC book!!”
That’s how it goes to this day.
He wanted me to read out to him from every single book he had before he would consent to sleep. Once I had read to him from ALL of them, he would obediently turn on his side and go to sleep. As the number of books increased so did the reading time. I took to hiding half his books and rotating them.
As a child, trains were an obsession with him. He wanted us to draw trains for him; trains, more trains and even more trains. We were bored artists, but experts in our field. He would sit for hours, staring out of the window of the train on our frequent journeys, the envy of mothers trying vainly to control their fidgety or bawling children. Even in the midst of sleep, if he heard a train he would be awake in a jiffy chanting,
Train train!! Train train!!
Such a curious child was he and his mind always pre-occupied that he appeared forgetful to the rest of us. He would dismantle his toys take out the motor and use it for making something new from his imagination. Was he a mechanical engineer in the making, we wondered.
An obedient and reasonable boy as him was hard to find. Little did I know what the future held and that a tornado in the form of a junior son was all set to enter my house. Just as the senior son wished and in spite of his mother’s fervent hope for a daughter, he got a baby brother. No sister, I want a brother to play cricket with me, had been his categorical statement. I know for a fact that he promptly changed his mind when the said little brother started snatching his toys and making mince meat out of them. By then of course it was too late. In spite, he took good care of his brother, taking him along to the playground unlike other boys who did not like little brothers tagging along. But of course, it was time for the Big Fights once they grew bigger. He left no stone unturned to drive kid brother nuts (still does) and get on Mom’s nerves (not any more), but never in an aggressive way, the smart fellow that he was (is).
Big bucks attracted him. He wanted to know what the highest paying job was. That was where he intended going. Money changing hands at restaurants and hotels made him want to own a hotel. And no he was not going to give us a room for us to stay in since he wanted to rent out that room too. When he heard how much the apartment we were going to buy cost, he decided real estate and building was what he was going to dabble in. And no, he wouldn’t let us stay in one of them apartments he was going to build, in our old age. He had to sell them to get money, didn’t he? All these were given the go by when he met up with a computer at 13. He had met the love of his life and big bucks were promptly forgotten.
Not only big bucks but a lot of other things were forgotten as well. The letters I gave him to post remained in his room, beneath a pile of books or behind a cupboard. The butter I asked him to get was left in his mo-bike bag for over a week, gooey and melting. ‘He only remembers formulas Aunty!’ his friends would joke when I asked them to remind him to post a letter or buy something for the home. The ever polite boy that he was (and is), he never said ‘no’ when asked for help. He merely forgot, still does for that matter. I bet all that goes round and round in his head are all those codes he is working on.
The junior son has this habit of poking my arm without mind you, any provocation whatsoever, making me yell and lunge at him trying to scratch his arm and run for cover all in the blink of an eye. Not actions fit for a mother you say? Oh yeah? Says who? Anyway we’ll settle that later. All this shrieking and running around disturbs the L & M making him wince and go, ‘Shhhh… !’ censoriously. You see he is worried about the neighbors and what they might think.
The senior son takes a bit after his Dad in this matter. So not only would he not dream of poking me in the arm, he would also be aghast if he heard me yell. I have to admit though that he did make me shriek in delight once when he got me a cute yellow Teddy Bear on my 44th birthday. Of course this was followed by the junior son getting me another one, this time pink, on my 47th birthday, making me shriek again in delight, much to the annoyance of the neighbors who were just recovering from the ruptured eardrums due to the previous shriek.
Well, what I wanted to say before I got diverted to talking about Teddy bears was that, with the senior son around it is more of the prim and proper Mom you will see. Not the scratching cat. He would be mortified if he found me behaving the way I do when I go out with the junior son, a wee bit off her rocker. When he was fourteen, he wanted me to go for the PTA meeting in his school in a sari, not salwar kameez. I hope the stay in the US of A has changed all that (Just kidding!). The best part of our times together are the long hours we spend talking of everything under the sun, from philosophy to people whom you cannot reason with, from the expanding universe to the latest hit movie, the antics of Goofy to the future and what it holds….. it goes on and on.
Unlike most Moms who might fret about their son going off so far away to work, I was more pleased (than he himself) on his move to CA. I am waiting for him to show me a bit of the world, at least the part where he stays. I have my bags packed and ready to leave at short notice!
Happy Birthday Son! See, you didn’t have to worry about the blog, did you?? 😉
©Shail Mohan 2009

Aarkkanum vendi okkanikkunnathu poley


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We have reached the end of the month with me having missed many days of rambling. Such is life these days. I am not just busy, but too tired at the end of each day to get down to writing posts, even those that I have carefully planned during the day. That makes me realize that I am not young anymore. Those were days when I could have the busiest of days and still forgo sleep/rest to blog. Now sleeping at the right time is a must, as also waking up. I have to be fit for the day. You see, now I cannot simply say ‘I am too tired, let me loll’ whenever I wanted like I used to before. Life needs that I be alert, on my feet and ready to deal with the day. So yeah, that’s why so many posts have gone missing this February, having been written only in my head, not made it here. But they are there alright, stored securely, so will get written sooner than later, whenever I find the time. In the mean time let me tell you all about ‘aarkkanum vendi okkanikkunnathu poley‘.

It is a Malayalam saying and means umm… what exactly does it mean? I don’t think it can be translated as is. So to what it stands for, something to the effect of doing things just for the sake of it.

Recently I had been waiting in the reception area of a prestigious hospital. I had a good view of the entrance and hence idly watched the happenings. There was a male security guard in uniform and a female employee of the hospital, also in her uniform sari. Between the pair of them they stopped all entrants to check their temperature and dispense sanitizer as also asking each where they were headed. I don’t know about other places, but here if not checked and restricted, whole families are liable to follow each patient into the hospital at all times of the day, never mind the visiting hours. Fortunately (I never thought I’d be using that word with reference to corona virus) corona virus has put a stop to this crowding. Only just. Even now hospitals have to strictly remind people that only one person is allowed to accompany a patient.

Anyway, while watching the action and thinking these thoughts, I also started noticing how people were sanitizing their hands. There were a few who wee diligently applying the sanitizer al over both hands. Some were doing the sanitizing halfheartedly, doing a complicated maneuver with their fingers and expecting the sanitizer to spread itself. But what astounded me was when a woman walked in holding a file in one hand. She extended the other hand for the sanitizer and with the same maneuver I had noticed from others tried to spread it on just that one hand. She left alone the other hand which was holding the file. Like really? I now started taking a keener interest.

Next came a posse of nuns. One was in a wheel chair, she rubbed sanitizer on both her hands. Of the other two, one had a bag and the other a file in one hand each. They casually extended one hand, received the sanitizer and… you guessed it, tried to make their fingers do the magic and left it at that. One of them was seen shaking off the sanitizer as if she had got extra. Really, Sister? I wanted to ask. Next I saw a couple of hospital employees, enter. They were waved through without sanitizing their hands. Okay, they have their own dispensers at their stations or wherever, I concluded, which is why they were being let off with just a temperature check. But when I looked, they went straight to punch themselves in. Like really, without sanitizing your hand?

Just then I saw the female security extend her hand to dispense sanitizer to a woman who had entered, but she had bags in both her hands. She was with someone who was going to be admitted. Wait a minute, I thought, don’t tell me she was going to be allowed to walk away because of that? The woman kept her bags down and went outside to get one more bag. Meanwhile her companion had sanitized his hands. The woman returned, picked up all three bags and simply walked on, both the security staff none the wiser.

Watching more and more of the same, I seriously wondered if there was a moratorium on good sense. Sanitizing your hands is such a simple and easy first line of defense against the spread of the deadly virus we have been told repeatedly. And yet, here at a hospital, a prestigious private one at that, no one was paying attention in enforcing it, or doing it the right way. It was a clear case of those involved acting like aarkkanum vendi okkanikkunnathu poley. Doing it just for the sake of it, because someone told you or you had heard it had to be done, or simply ‘oh whatever’. Not with a clear thought to keep oneself and loved ones and everyone else, safe.

To think this was just a minute section of a very large and dense population that I had seen in action! What about the rest, I wondered. By the way, don’t even get me started on how people wear their masks, or you will find yourself swamped in one thousand five hundred or more words. Not that that will stop me, what does, is only the fact that it is time for me to cook lunch. 😉

© Shail mohan 2021