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Many years back, while residing at Binnaguri, the L & M and I used to go for after-dinner walks. This was not the kind of walk where you work yourself up into a sweat, but the *stroll along in the quiet of the night* kind. After clearing the table and putting the leftovers into the refrigerator I’d pull on a pair of shoes and off we’d go. The children would be either reading, watching TV or getting ready for bed.

Those were busy times for the L & M and these hours were the only ones we got to be together. We’d walk past the army houses, and crossing the junction ahead continue walking along the playground till the next junction. Army cantonment areas are generally quiet and at 10 p.m. or later which was when we walked, it would be even more quiet than usual. The whole road would be ours, not that we needed it all, just the path on one side to walk and if we felt like it, talk as we walked.

On one such walk I tilted my head, looked at the sky full of stars and tried to identify the constellations the L & M had pointed out to me the previous day. All around us was absolute silence and beyond the few street lamps, only darkness. Suddenly something struck me, as it often happens. So, I turned to the L & M and asked,

“What if a UFO flew down just now and beamed us up into it and went away to some strange new planet?”

Pat came the reply from the L & M,

“We’ll just tell them we want to take our children too or else we won’t be coming! How can we leave without them?”

I mulled over that for more reasons than one. Here was the father saying something that a mother was expected to think and say. So much for generalizations. Frankly I had not thought of the children because my ‘what if’ scenario had been about being suddenly snatched up while out on a walk late in the night. Still it came as a surprise to me that it was the Dad who first thought of them and not the Mom. Isn’t that what society and everything it contains teaches us, the mother always, but always, thinks of her children first?! Yes, I am thumbing my nose at the notion rammed down our throats and the stereotyping of humans based on gender.

What the L & M said put me in a quandary though. The children were safe at home, and would usually be fast asleep by the time we returned from our walk. If the UFO whisked us away, they’d become orphans overnight! What would happen when they woke up and found no Mom or Dad around? Who would care for them? Would they love and understand the kids the same way we their parents did? Just the thought of their sad little souls became unbearable.

The L & M was right, I decided. We needed to ask the UFO-walas to take them along with us, or else leave us behind and go find others. But what if they said yes, bring the kids too, and then took us to a hostile planet, desert like, nothing as far as the eye could see but sand and more sand? Naah, the children were better off on beautiful Earth. But how unhappy they would be without us, not knowing where we had disappeared.

This was Grade 1 Dilemma and was getting too much for me. None of the answers was to my satisfaction (Yes, I do try my best to find the best answers to questions raised during my what-if indulgences). So I gave up the *what if UFOs picked up* idea itself and pacified myself that in case we did see one on our walk, we’d run like hell, get inside our home and shut the door. Don’t ask me how that is even possible. I’ll get back to the problem as soon as I have solved other pending what-if situations I have collected over the years and need my immediate attention. 😉

Related post: What if…?

©Shail Mohan 2015

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