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Zebras. Zulu. Zero.
No, no, no.
Zig-zag, zing, zest.

No, no, no.
Got it. Zits!
You are out of your mind.
Okay I give up. Reveal all.


I think I am one of those rare breed of mothers who wanted their children to sleep well rather than stay up late and study the day before their exams, or any day for that matter. ‘I will study some more, Amma.’ ‘No way, you have exams tomorrow. Get some sleep!’ This used to be a common exchange in our household.

Sleep is important, I never failed to remind them as school children. It will help you process what you have read. Without sleep whatever you read becomes useless. I don’t know what science has to say to back me up, but this is what I believed and accordingly taught them. As example I used to put before the sons my own story.

As a pre-university student, I stayed in a college hostel where it was compulsory to study in the after dinner hours till 10-30 p.m. The doors to rooms had to be kept open and the nun in charge of the floor would walk up and down the passageway keeping a hawk’s eye on us her hapless wards. I use the word hapless to describe everyone, but no, none else was as hapless as poor old me.

My eyes would droop by the time it was 9 p.m. I’d look longingly at my bed. If only I could… Just for five minutes may be. Once I did allow myself to be persuaded and let my head rest on the pillow. As luck would have it, the nun-in-charge soon arrived on the scene. The next thing I knew, I was being shaken awake by her, asked to go wash my face and then sit and study. Have you been shaken awake in your first hour of deep sleep? It is horrible, simply horrible.

Though lights-out was at 10-30 p.m. not one day would I last that far. As soon as the nun had descended the ramp to the floor below to her room, I’d jump on to my bed and be fast sleep before she even opened her door. Nothing changed even during exam time. My peers stayed up late during exams, long after lights-out, burning midnight candles and studying in that light. Me? Are you out of your mind? Never, ever. I slept soundly at my usual time.

When the results came, I hadn’t done too badly. In fact I had done better than those who studied late into the night losing sleep. But she used to sleep so early, they said of me. I didn’t think much of it back then. Soon I read about the importance of sleep somewhere or other, how it allows the brain to process what we have learned. Oh, is that what happened with me then? I wondered. I better pass the benefit on to my children. So I used my own story to impress upon them that sleep equals doing better in studies.

Imagine my children’s surprise when they one day found out that other parents asked their children to sit up late and study while their own mother insisted they go to bed so as to be fresh on the day of the exam. ‘Amma, my friend says he has to study late even if he is sleepy.‘ ‘None of my friends’ mothers sends them off to sleep on the days before exam.‘ I smiled mysteriously. ‘Yeah, I am different that way.

But those were school days. By the time they were in college, it had all turned upside down. They slept late. Woke up late. But my role was done by then, now it was them on their own. By then, inexplicably, it was my turn to leave behind my ‘rooster’ days and become a night owl. Now THEY tell ME that I should get some sleep, not stay up so late. How many hours sleep did you get last night, Amma? they ask when they get the chance. Sleep is important you know. It repairs your body while you’re asleep…. Yeah, I know, I know. I am off now …..zzzzzzZZZ.

© Shail Mohan 2020

I overshot April by one day. But what’s important, I did it, completed my #AtoZ blogging. Yes, yes, yes!