Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My gift wrapped days!

I had a very romantic idea about childhood. Those tender years when you were carefree, always laughing, not a worry in the world. The days were soft like cotton and nights silky and gossamer. How wrong!

I am once again reliving those wondrous days with Tanmay, my friend’s delightful seven year old son. I now understand their stresses, the tensions , their fears and apprehensions.

My day starts delightfully as he jumps on my bed and wraps his soft arms around me and whispers that the tea is ready. Today is maths test. He cant remember the table of 4. I tickle him and tell him he knows it. We revise the tables playfully running around bumping furniture and sipping tea at the same time. His mother feigns anger as she readies his bath. He is late for school. She airlifts him ,arms flying,to the bathroom. I get that much time to read the newspaper and catch up with what is happening around the world. The outside world stops as he comes out of the bath and its pandemonium. He has tried my black shoe polish on his white sneakers and his mother is grumbling. He looks sheepishly at me. I wink and get a cleaner lotion from inside my bag. We both shake the bottle and apply the lotion allowing it to dry and wipe the shoe clean. We both whoop delightfully as the shoes look sparkling white and give each other high fives.

As its time to leave for school, he looks at me and his dad impishly and we wink. That’s the signal to pick his bike. Mom complains that he must walk.Besides, once I leave she would find it hard to carry back the bike. But we ignore her and take the cycle down the lift. He squeals with delight as I run behind him with his bag and water bottles and tiffin carrier.

He scares his friends by ringing the bell and then deftly maneuvers his cycle through the bunch of kids. As the school bus nears, suddenly he remembers the he has forgotten his writing board at home. A frown creases his face. He doesn’t smile as I wave him. Clearly he is worried.

Daddy and I take a detour and reach his school as they are in recess for snacks. The broadest of smile comes on his face as he clutches the board gratefully. He gives his list of things to be purchased from the school supplies. The supplies could furnish an army. He needs tie and school badge every month, shoes every two months and shirt every three months. He patiently explains that he is very gentle. But the other boys are naughty. A few class mates complain about him to my friend. Tanmay simply glares.

Evening we get a call from him. What time are we coming home. Seven. His father replies. The negotiations begin. No make it six. Ok 6.30. finally we settle to 6.45. Pick me from the teacher’s home. He orders. Next. what are we going to bring for him. We agree for biscuits from the bakery. Don’t bring the hard ones. He warns. I broke a tooth because of it. Ok cream biscuits. One last try. Come at 6.15. daddy shouts and he hurriedly keeps the phone.

When we reach home we find that one tooth has fallen. It’s the incisor. He wants to see it in the mirror. The mother shouts if you see, the new one wont grow. i tell him wrap it in some cotton and keep it below your pillow. Childhood is about fantasy not reality. let him dream of fairy god mother bringing his new tooth.

We study English. I try to correct his pronunciation. I patiently ask him to repeat Lion. But he ends up saying Loin. Again I correct Bear and explain that beer is something we drink. He is unhappy. The teacher will be angry. I pick up the phone and call his teacher. I gently advise her to look into how the kids pronounce. She is young and brash. I am curtly told that that’s how it is pronounced in Hyderabad. My joke about the king of the jungle not being happy if you don’t call him correctly falls flat. When I mention Beer she warns me not to spoil the child by mentioning alcohol. I try another angle. I ask her your name is Lata. How would you feel if someone calls you Latha. Well she is indeed Latha. She has dealt a knock out punch.As I keep the phone down, he looks at me with concern, “ was she angry?” “ No. But at home we shall pronounce it as Lion”. He gladly agrees.

Time for some fun. We bring out the colors and paints. I watch mesmerized as his imagination takes wings. I take pictures with my camera as he is immersed in his creativity. I title it “ The artist at work.” I have captured him for posterity.

A few years back he was in his shower. Suddenly he squeezed himself inside the bucket and smiled naughtily. I rushed for my camera and took a picture. I titled it “ It’s my world”. The picture won an award in USA and it was printed in their annual book. That book is safe in his father’s locker. A pearl from his precious oyster. A remembrance of his colorful childhood when he grows.

He draws an aeroplane and tells me proudly that he will fly it when he grows. When? I ask. Soon very soon. To grow fast, he eats spinach. So that he gets muscles like popeye.

Everyday he checks his muscles in front of the mirror.

The dear innocent angel. Little does he realize that its one of life’s paradoxes. As soon as he grows old , he would yearn to be a child again.

I shall not be alive then. He may relive it some day through another Tanmay.

Just like me.

For now I feel like a kid sitting besides a lake watching the days fly like the brightest kites one can paint.

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