Thursday, July 14, 2011



Time 7-00 A.M. Everybody in the house alert except for Daddy who is asleep. Daddy has to leave for office at 7-30 A.M.So everybody else has to be alert and ready to do the jobs allotted to each member of the family. Daddy, of course does not like to be awakened abruptly ( Says it is bad for his nerves ). Daddy is an Efficiency Engineer, having specialized in Time & Motion Study. Everything connected with him has therefore to be done in the shortest possible time and in the most efficient manner.

Guddi, our four year old, is stationed at the bedroom door by 6-55 A.M. to report on Daddy's movements or the lack thereof. I am, in the meanwhile, squeezing the toothpaste on Daddy's toothbrush, laying out his shaving kit, laying out the morning newspaper by the side of the commode, taking out water ( warm in winter ) for his bath, laying out his clothes ... etc. Our eight year old son is busy polishing Daddy's shoes. Our twelve year old daughter stars making breakfast and our fourteen year old Prince Of Wales gets busy preparing Daddy's briefcase, changing the refill of his dotpen ( if needed )...etc. There is no servant, of course not because Daddy is a socialist but because no servants are needed in a well-ordered household of Daddy's conception.


By about 7- 10 A.M. Daddy wakes up as is evident by the intelligence report conveyed by Guddi. Daddy rushes to the bathroom and gets busy with his morning duties. I station myself at the bathroom door. Daddy shouts across the bathroom door instructions about the letters he wants me to write to relatives, friends, the bank, the insurance company and so on. I shout back to him my instructions to him regarding the things i would like him to buy on his way back from the city. Daddy has perfected a technique for shaving with one hand while the other hand is brushing his teeth. He says his prayers while bathing and reads the newspaper while ........... . By about 7-22 A.M. he is out of the bathroom and into the dressing room; while I go into the bathroom to pick up the newspaper, fold it and shove it into his briefcase for him to finish reading it on his way to the office.


The twelve year old is in the meantime bringing breakfast things on to the table. Daddy dressed, rushes to the dining table by which time, I am supposed to join him ( " BHOJYESHU MATA " ! ) While eating, he keeps a steady commentary on the day's news and current topics. I am, by then, far too weary to respond to his comments and merely nod to his views on the latest scam, the latest anti-productivity steps taken by the government, the inflation, the movements of the crony parasitic NGOs, licences secured by the crony capitalists, the latest anti-education agitation by student leaders and so on...... . Breakfast over, I pick up the briefcase to hand it to him while he sweeps me into his arms, briefcase and all, for a good bye kiss. Since the last morsel is still in the process of being chewed, the kiss tastes Omletty, Cheesy or Dosai or DESAI depending on the menu of the breakfast or whether the process of chewing has been completed by then. I expect the kiss to mean something else but being a traditional Hindu wife, I take the kiss philosophically. I even rationalize that a Hindu wife is supposed to feed herself on the leftovers of her husband's meals. Many a time have I pleaded with him to save a few seconds by omitting the kiss but then he would grow sentimental and lament at length on the lack of romance in our day-to-day life. " What use is all this hustle - bustle of a chap's life, if he can't even kiss his wife while parting for the day's work ? ", he would exclaim. After his missing the bus on such occasions and the consequent berating till a taxi was brought to our door, I now accept the kiss and the accompanying crumbs without any dissent.

Having turned himself in the direction of the door during the kiss, he deftly takes over the briefcase, depositing me on the floor at the same time. Now starts the dash to the bus terminus which is just across the park. It is a false start however. Little Guddi with clenched fists and dogged determination, pursues his steps, muttering threats to the ungrateful Daddy who always kisses mummy but never remembers Guddy. Daddy runs back, picks up Guddy in a sweeping turn, kisses her twice to make up for the lapse all the while running and depositing Guddy on the way.


Our eight year old, stationed at the centre of the park, has all this time been passing the intelligence reports about the bus's arrival, the driver's getting back into his seat, the starting of the engine.....etc. through Guddi who, till she started pursuing Daddy was stationed at our gate. Our fourteen year old has been at the bus stand, pleading with the driver to delay the starting by a minute more. Time 7-30 A.M..... The driver, used to this daily drama, runs the bus a few feet to make Daddy run still faster. With the children urging him on, Daddy catches the doorpost of the running bus with one hand while waving triumphantly to anxious me with the briefcase brandishing other hand.


The other regular passengers of the bus are also participants in the drama, being divided into "Encouragers " and " Discouragers ". Ever since his Daddy took our fourteen year old to the races ( to improve the latter's mind ), he has been accepting bets from Daddy's co-passengers on whether Daddy would make it. Earlier I was vehemently opposing this gambling bit but now I have learnt to accept it. It compensates for the occasional taxi fare when Daddy misses the bus !

THE AFTERMATH .................................

The bus out of sight, I struggle with myself for the last few steps to my bed and collapse. My last thought before falling into exhausted sleep is " Why in goodness can't Daddy wake up earlier. Eet eese baad for his nerves. His, of course. As for me, i am already a n..e..r..v..o..u..s w..r..e..c..k...........Grrr.........Grrrr.............

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I met two year old Shailav in the suburban locale of a moffusil town. He looks like a well adjusted little Chimpanzee. In any case, who has ever heard of a schizophrenic Chimp ?

Shailav is extremely popular in the neighbourhood. Each one of his neighbours calls him by a different form of endearment. When he passes by, anyone in sight can not resist stopping and exchanging pleasantries with him. An exchange with Shailav seems to lift the gloom off the face of his interlocutor. Age groups do not bother him. He is equally at home with the children, the young as well as the aged. The fair sex is however, one of his weaknesses.

Shailav has an aged neighbour. As it happens in every neighbourhood, this old man is the one who detests children. They " spoil his garden, clutter up his walkway with dirt and make a lot of noise outside his compound."Even when they are playing silently, " They are scheming on some devilish plan to torment him." He therefore jealously guards his property, shooing off any children coming even within a mile of his property.

One day while the old man was attending to his fence, Shailav walked upto hom, looked into his eyes and said " Grandpa " in his usual calm and dispassionate manner. No more words passed. Before the old man could react one way or the other, Shailav had completely forgotten and got busy with some other activity. For want of any other excuse, since Shailav had never entered his property, the old man had been calling him " a pampered brat ." However this incident set him to thinking. At least, he is different. He has never vandalized my garden. Never picked any fruits. What if he is pampered ?

Then on, Shailav got one more person to smile at. What is more, the old man smiled back. The news of the transformation of the old man spread in the neighbourhood. Just then, one day, Shailav was not to be found. Everyone gathered near his house, speculating about his whreabots. All his usual haunts were checked but no luck. After a considerable time, he emerged from the old man's house, mouth properly splattered with Chocolate, hands and pockets bulging with toffees. To the various cries of exclamation, Shailav had very little to respond to. He merely pointed towards the place of his recent place of habitat and said " Grandpa. " In that one word, he was telling the children of the locality that there was always a way of tackling any grown up. To the adults, he was saying " Look, the old man is after all, not that bad " The old man is now ready for grandfathership.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Surrender

On a sunday evening, I felt suddenly tired and bathed with perpiration during a set of tennis. Walked out without playing any more. Went home, supped and slept. Woke up in the middle of the night, perspiring despite the winter. No sleep thereafter.
Saturday story was repeated on Sunday except that I was playing cricket with my kids and their cronies when it happened. Sunday night competed with Saturday night in keeping me awake. The result was a close tie. Something like the Brisbane Test Match.
Monday morning blues ! Without living up the weekend ! Never in my three year old friendship with Insomnia, did I feel so down and out. Rang up the doctor. Doctor was annoyed on hearing about pain in the chest and left arm. Actually more annoyed as I did not report earlier in the weekend. Ordered my admission to the hospital. I thought, maybe the doctor was himself suffering from Monday morning blues. Looked at my wife, hoping for a rescue operation. No expression. Looked again . Still no expression. Covering the phone mouthpiece, I provoked her. " Do you mind, if I go, get admitted to the hospital ? "
" You are unwell and the doctor says so. Therefore, you must. Your health comes first " said my Pativrata Nari.
" O.K. Doc ! I shall report to the hospital in an hour. " I gave in with what I thought was grace. The news electrified the house. Boys excited. Their hockey field was next to the hospital. Daughter and ma-in-law in tears. Yes, ma-in-law too ! And genuine, not crocodile ones, mind you ! Wife busy packing my earthly belongings between restrained sobs. Not having been a bride, I did not till then, understand why her family cries at the time of her departure. Now I did. I would make a bad bride though. I did not feel like crying. The bride ought to. At least good ones.
I wanted to go to hospital in style i.e. in an ambulance. Our driver foiled me however. He was ready with the ancient jeep at the gate. I hoped, as usual, it might not start. It did. I hoped as usual, it might fail on the way. It did not. And I was thus jeeped all the way to the hospital. In a most unpatient like manner. Like a bride being carried piggyback instead of in a palki. But then bad ones ought to be.
At the hospital door, I tried to act brave. After a few steps, the atmosohere got me. I started wobbling and leant on the wall for support. I was taken to my bed. Tucked in.
The hospital staff started trickling in. One brought a chair for my wife to sit on. Another wheeled in a roller coastered cabinet cum dining table. A third took my temperature and pulse. Wife left after a while. I explored around the bed. Found a bell switch. Just for the heck of it, pressed it. The bell rang. Not very musical. A tall and stately maid in a nurse's uniform appeared. I asked for water. She complied. Pressed the bell again. a sister of sweet innocence appeared. Mischief died on my lips. I asked for my lunch to be laid out. Ate, dozed off, thanks to the sleeping fraught adminstered earlier.
Woke up. Pressed the bell again. wanted to have another look at the tall and stately one. Instead, a loose limbed, languid one appeared. Asked for something. Got it. Pressed the bell again. A schoolgirlish one appeared. Hey ! Isn't there an end to this procession ? I call them Wish-Kanyas. Wish for something. Press the bell. Presto ! There she comes, even if she is not the one you wished for. All very conscientious in their duty, smiling, cheerful and making light of an obviously hard job. Kudos to them.
The matron once made an entry. She did not look matronly. Too young for that. Tried to sound like one, though. Said, I could not smoke while in the hospital. Pleaded for four cigarettes a day. She did not have the heart to say no. Weak spot there. Named her " Bokuni Di " meaning the adminishing elder sister in Bengali. She has not stopped admonishing since. Which little girl does like becoming a Didi and ordering younger siblings around ?
Night dawned. As they do for insomniacs. Switched on the light. Started reading. Night sister entered. Spoke. A tenor. Said, I ought not to read. I said, I knew. Went on reading. She brought a doze. Chloral. Knock out drops. Gave me. Expected me to be knocked out by it. I was. After two hours.
The night sister is like a speaking doll. Her brand new husband, a handsome, young, Army Jawan had come to see her on vacation from his field posting. The sister had her eyes glowing, the like of which can be seen only when women are in love. Bless her, dear God ! If and wherever you are !
E.C.G. done, blood sucked and tested, urine and stool tested, worms expelled - four of them, about 6" long (average). Aneama given, X - Ray taken. All hospital rituals over. Just when I was about to be comfortable in the hospital, wife asked me when I was getting discharged. What for ? I countered. I looked better, she said. Doctor agreed. Boss too said so. He went further - wanted me to get my head examined. By a proper head shrinker. Funny people these ! Dragged me to hospital when I didn't want to go. Want to drag me home when I am about to get set in the hospital. But then ...
That's how life is. You are but a pawn in the hands of the powers that be. Best not to struggle too hard. Fall in line.Go when you are dragged. Come when you are pushed out. Struggle a little though, otherwise even non-powers might push you around.