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The First Born now and then reminds me what a meanie mom I had been to make him cry when he was but a four year old just so I could record his ‘crying voice’. And how did I make him cry? It was quite easy.

One afternoon I was recording him reciting the rhymes he learnt in school. He was mighty thrilled when I played the very first one back for him. From then on I had to pause, rewind the tape and play each rhyme or ditty immediately after he had sung it. We were having a good time this way when it occurred to me I needed a recording of him crying. The idea I hit upon was quite simple. I simply did not rewind the next song he sang or play it for him promptly as he desired.

Amma!‘ he jumped up and down happily on the chair he was standing, quite unaware of my intentions. ‘Play it for me!‘ According to plan, I didn’t. The next one when it came was a more insistent and commanding, ‘Amma! Play it!‘ I still didn’t, keeping myself busy instead in making sure all this was being recorded. The last one had an incredulous ring to it. He was now agitated. ‘Ammaaa?! Why aren’t you playing it?‘ Still no response from me. His eyes filled with big, fat tears. He got off the chair he was standing on and mumbling incoherently between sobs about Amma and her uncaring ways, walked off to the next room.

My job was done. I quickly called him back, I was going to play his rhymes back for him, did he want to listen? All complaints and tears forgotten, he came running back. I had him listen to everything from start to finish, including the sobs as it got fainter when he walked off. That’s why I hadn’t played your rhymes, I wanted to catch you crying. He didn’t mind. There was a huge smile on his face. He loved listening to himself crying as much as he did the reciting and in the ensuing days he played the tape over and over again.

To this day he teases me mercilessly for making him cry for no reason. πŸ˜€

Β© Shail Mohan 2021