Of chicken and pork

When your children get chicken pox, the world quickly falls into two categories. Those who look terrified and take one step back and those who step forward to lend a hand and go, ‘Poor baby..”.

The Bean got chicken pox 3 days before we were to go to Allahabad for X’mas. Yes, that is why you’ve seen neither hide nor hair of me in a month. Dad’s big birthday bash. X’mas. Precious nephew visiting India. Moving house. Every single thing blighted by the damn pox.

My first thought was, Why me?! A second later I remembered I was the adult in the equation and it was the poor child who was suffering. Not literally though. The vaccination she’s had as well as the booster shot, ensured that she didn’t get a particularly bad case of it so there was no fever and none of the listlessness and cough and what not I associated with it from my own childhood bout.

We’d attended a birthday party the night before and I sent out mass SMS to all the mothers asking them to check their kids before rushing her to the doctor in our apartment complex. She confirmed that at least 7 other cases had already been reported over the last couple of weeks. Subclinical she called it. Not infectious, but it would be best to give the Brat the vaccine booster since he exhibited no signs of having it, she said. I went home and sent a mail out to the complex google group warning them. While a few people mailed back thanking me for the warning, others mailed telling me not to go the ‘American way’ I quote. That kids will have ailments and will pass them around and there’s no reason to quarantine or warn. Um. Okay.

Either way, I knew our holiday was over. My chance to spend time with my brother and nephew, lost. I cancelled my tickets, then called and told my mother and SIL that I was not coming because I didn’t want to expose Baby Button to the virus. And then I settled down to do art and craft with the kids so that they didn’t go downstairs and infect the entire community. My phone didn’t stop ringing that day. Uncle, Aunt, parents, SIL, everyone kept calling. I have no idea what we spoke of but apparently we couldn’t stop. I have the bills to prove it.

The grandparents were torn. One set of grandkids having to stay away for the sake of another. The SIL was upset that we’d not get to be together. I was hopping mad at the timing. In general we’d all have been fine with the Button getting it if he’d been older, but he was only 11 months old and they had to travel back soon. Of course plenty of others saw it in black and white – if your kids are sick, no point risking another. But for family it’s never so simple. We all wanted to be together. We have only ONE f**king festival in the year to look forward to, this would be Baby Button’s first X’mas and this was the only time we’d get to be together as a family. X’mas is not about Santa and gifts – it’s about sitting around the fire ribbing each other and making your mother pull her hair out in bunches by only settling down for dinner past midnight.

By night the brother had woken up in the US and heard the news. He rushed out of a client meeting and called me – The kids have what? You’re not coming? This is not happening.

I shooed him back to work and went to bed only to wake up the next morning to a callΒ from the SIL. Chicken pox or no, I was to haul my butt to Allahabad, not because they wanted to see me, but because the poxy kids were the Button’s cousins and he had a right to spend time with them. Secretly I was dying to hold and kiss him and didn’t care who caught what in the bargain, but the adult mask I sometimes like to prance around in dictated that I behave responsibly.

No no, I said seriously.

Yes, yes, she said firmly – Kids get chicken pox. That’s what kids do. We’re enough people to handle the kids and its not fair that you should be holed up in a flat without friends and family through X’mas season. Yes, yes, I bitterly cried inside my head. The Uncle and Aunt called – You come and stay with the kids at our place. Yes, that was all very well but then what would be the point? We’d still be together for meals and exposing the baby to the germs.

The OA came home from work and said – Am I the only adult in the family? You’re not going. We’re not going. We’ll figure out what to do to have a fun X’mas without infecting either your family or the entire apartment complex.

The kids were blissfully unaware of the change in plans.

And while we argued and debated, time sped on in that nasty fashion that it tends to when you badly want something. It was almost X’mas Eve and the brother was landing in Delhi and heading on to Allahabad. I went to the airport at 3 am to pick him up and till 7 am we sat in my living room, sipping on hot coffee and chatting. I savoured the time I got uninterrupted by kids and husband, just us siblings catching up, completing each others’ sentences.

Tambi woke the kids up before he caught the flight home and they tumbled out of bed in excitement. Tambi Maama was here!!!! It was all I could do to convince them not to hang on to his coat tails and go off with him. It was also heartwarming that they remembered him and were falling over in excitement on seeing him. Perhaps babies have a little sensor that tells them which people make their parents happy. Tambi dragged me out of the room and I wilted under his fierce glare as he bit out – You ARE bringing them home, chicken pox or no.

The OA kept rolling his eyes but we ignored him. I was sick of my kids being locked up in a flat like criminals, specially when the Bean felt perfectly fit and was running around making me dizzy. I was sick of being locked into the house myself with them and not having even a ten minute break because the conscience demanded that I don’t even get out to buy groceries taking them with me. With no house help I had no one to leave them home with either. I was so grateful to go home where there’d be others to share the work load and the joy err.. pox with. And I was so glad that the Bean would have people willing to touch her and cuddle her and hold her and not treat her like she was untouchable. It was the season of joy but the joy had been sucked out of her little touchy-feely-cuddly baby life.Β To go back a bit – after we got the Brat his shot the Bean asked sadly, “Mama, can I hug him now? I’ve been missing him.”

And so it was that two days later we got into our little coupe, and rattled away down the train tracks, the wheels chanting home, home, home. Sometimes you need to be at the end of your tether to appreciate what you’re getting. And this X’mas I learnt that family are the people who will hug you, kiss you even when you’re infectious and want you home even if they have an 11 month old being put at risk. Because the spotty 4 year old is as precious to them. And that Β God is rarely unkind enough to take away your 2 weeks of being aunt to the most beautiful, dimply, bundle of joy ever.

Home, home, home…. The train pulled in late thanks to fog, but on Christmas Eve we tumbled out onto the the grey, cold platform and straight into the warmth of excited family. Yep. Twas certainly the season to be jolly. Hope yours was too.

PS: This isn’t the end of course. Stay tuned to know why the title is called Chicken and Pork!


64 thoughts on “Of chicken and pork

  1. Poor baby. Chicken pox can be a real downer but thankfully as you said she didn’t get it too bad. So glad to see you back and to hear that you had a great xmas. And the post on Baby Button is STILL pending.
    i somehow thought that the vaccine prevents chicken pox. But it seems now that maybe it only makes it less severe. Oh well. In any case I’ve heard that the older you get it, the worse it is. I got it in college and missed half a semester because if it.

  2. Finally you are back!!! The vaccine does not prevent the pox????? And I was thinking all along about how my tyke will be spared of the boring disease (yes..it is such a big bore to be infected with it na?) :((((

  3. Yay – you’re back, but not so yay to hear of the babies’ pox. A pox on the pox say!
    Hope you did have a wonderful Christmas in the end and the New Year is treating you well πŸ™‚

  4. Oh THANK YOU! Thank you for being back. I was SO HAPPY with the way this post ended. I had a sinking feeling while reading it that it would be about how you made the most of your time home and had fun ANYWAY (which is all very well and builds character), but I kept rooting for it to not end up that way.

  5. Glad that you finally went home to enjoy christmas. Here people arrange play dates so that their children can get it too specially during holidays so that they then don’t have to take a leave and quarantine period even in nurseries is 4-5 days.
    Waiting to hear more about the chicken and pork.

  6. what a full-of-twists-read… will she, won’t she! Yay for you spending Christmas with family! Yay for happy endings!

  7. Beanie reminded me of the then baby sister hugging appa and amma to sleep when she had the pox! She passed on the virus to amma, but like you said, how can you ever let a little baby be treated like an untouchable?
    I love your Beanie girl and I am always rooting for the little firecracker she is. Big hugs to the little girl.

  8. Yay! someone’s back….Hope the mad family got madder in the new year! Here’s wishing you all a healthy and happy new year…

  9. Glad you are back MM… good your folks convinced you to join them for Christmas… My son got Chickenpox after the vaccination and it was nightmare to make him sit at home.. I am really happy that you have a wonderful bro and more importantly sil!!

  10. Hi MM,

    Good to see you back. Yesterday only I was thinking that I should drop you a line asking if all’s well with you and your family. I know you are taking a break but seeing no posts for such a long time worried me a bit. Anyway, good to know that you still could be with your family. Hope you had a fun-filled X’mas and a happy new year. And I do hope that the kids are doing fine and had a blast with baby button.


  11. All’s well that ends well – from your tone, I’ve made the assumption that all ended well.

    Did you know that each subsequent kid that gets the pox gets infected lesser and lesser? So one of my cousins had the worst of it. Our grandmother encouraged all the kids in the house to play with her since we’d all get it at once and be done with it. By the time 4 other kids went through it and I contacted it, it was hardly an infection. 3 days of “quarantine” (we weren’t allowed to share food) and I was done. I’m hoping Baby button was fine and made it back to the land of the free and home of the brave safely. Belated Christmas and New year wishes to the whole MM family.

  12. Your SIL is really awesome to say that it was okay for cousins begin together despite the pox. I would have never done that. Shame on me! And bless her generous soul!

  13. Glad you could meet your family during Christmas! Thank God it wasn’t like the pox I’ve seen in our family…oozing itchy sores, high fevers and total seclusion. And I thought the vaccine prevented it altogether!

  14. Glad to have you back ! Thought you were busy moving houses. Good to know the children are better. Waiting for the rest of the story.

  15. So nice to hear from you MM although sorry to hear about the chicken pox. Have missed your writing so much. Don’t tell me someone else got swine flu!

  16. Hi MM,glad to have you back πŸ™‚ Was about to drop you a line inspite of you mentioning that you were going to reduce your blog posts but then I thought it would seem stalkerish πŸ™‚ I hope Bean is better now and I’m sure you had a blast for Christmas!

  17. I was checking every single day only to get disappointed. The one morning I didn’t check you have a new post. Made me sooo happy. But, we need more pictures and more details. Hope the Bean is better now.

  18. OMG! Have I missed you lady. I’m sure the Beanie must be back to her perfect self by now. And that you had a blasting Christmas celebrations. Waiting for the next part.
    BTW I’m sure you won’t recognize me with my new blog and all. πŸ˜‰

    • Oh her highness rarely mispronounces anything. She got it right. The only one she gets wrong till today is ‘used to’. Her version is, “Mama do you remember when we Nused to do XYZ?”

  19. Same to same incident we had our place too.so totally understand what you went through.my son also had the chickenpox a month back.and like the beanie, he had a very mild case as he was also vaccinated. So no fever, listlessness etc.
    And the hubby’s brother and wife were to visit us in 2 weeks time with their 6 month old daughter.
    We considered moving to my parents house during their visit as we didn’t want to infect the little 6month old niece.But luckily, the son recovered over the next 2 weeks and he got to spend time with his little sister.

  20. Your bro & SIL are super cool for being so zen about the pox.
    I got it when I was 10 and remember being obssessed with finding out why it was called “chicken” pox and discovering inventive ways of scratching the itch without alerting my folks.
    I also thought the vaccine was protection…the internets tells me the number of cases in the US dropped by 90% after the vaccine was introduced. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varicella_vaccine Must depend on the dosage? Anyway, these vaccines are pretty fickle…I had to get a Rubella shot when I was studying in the US because my immunity from the MMR shots of my childhood had waned off!

  21. Hello Hello ! Glad u had a wonderful holiday season! Wishin the mad family a fabulous 2012..

    I’ve been great…was home..yes India.. for 2 months and am back to the US, blogs and other things that are regular about life!

    lookin forward to the rest of this story and more stories….
    much love!

  22. I am so glad to see you back MM.

    Poor baby Bean…why did she have to get chicken pox just before Xmas. I am so happy that you could go and meet your family. You sil is really a very nice person.

    I hope you had a fun filled Xmas and New Year and the move to your new home went smooth and fine.

    Eagerly waiting for your next post..

  23. Hey there! Good to see a post here after long. Sorry to hear about the Bean not keeping well. Hope the kids are fine now. πŸ™‚

    That was one fun and exciting post to read. I am glad X-Mas turned out the way it did for you. πŸ™‚

    I didn’t know that the vaccine does not prevent chicken pox. 😐

  24. Hope the kids are fine now……Glad you had a great christmas……And got to spend time with you family……
    Missed you and the brat and the bean :)…

  25. Good to see you writing again. Yayyy!

    Hope the Bean is doing better now, and that you guys had lots of fun with family over the holiday season.

  26. Glad to see you back MM. Belated new year wishes to the family.
    Must say your brother and SIL are uber cool to have beanie over with the little one when she had chicken pox. Not many Indians settled abroad take it so lightly πŸ™‚

    • Actually I hear the opposite, with people having chicken pox parties etc. That said, they are undoubtedly fantastic people. After all, whose brother and SIL are they? πŸ˜‰

  27. arre, how can you keep us hanging yaar!! (kidding, I know you have a life…)
    Happy new year to the mad family, we had a little chicken pox scare of our own on the way back from India…thankfully, it was just that, a scare. Although, that means we have to worry about it happening at some point in the future!

  28. Phew! Good to hear from you after a long time!! I almost teared up reading that line where bean said that she wanted to hug her bhaiyya. Damn these diseases! Glad to know that you managed to go. Waiting for the next installment of this post with a bated breath!!!

  29. So good to know you all are doing fine. Except for the chickenpox ordeal that Beanie had to go through. Please drop a one liner post once every couple of weeks even if just to say all is well, before one of us readers dies of a heart attack worrying about the mad family.

  30. The American way does not stop at merely not quarantining the kids; you have to invite every other kid in town and have a pox party and try to ensure others get it πŸ˜€ The reasoning is that immunity that one gets from actually getting chickenpox is better than what you get from the vaccine, and it is much better to get chickenpox in childhood rather than as an adult when it becomes much more serious.

  31. MM! Oh have I missed you! And my firewall blocking wordpress and me reaching home late nights after work hasn’t been helpful either. Still seeing a nice long post from you always cheers me up.

    How’s li’l Beanie baby doing now? And oh, you finally got to hold and squeeze the life out of Baby Buttons! I can only imagine what you would’ve done to him. πŸ˜›

    Hope you had an amazing Christmas and New year. Keep the posts coming! πŸ™‚

  32. Oh madmomma, I missed you so very much. I kept checking and kept checking and hoped and prayed that you and the mad family was alright. And then the happy day came when I clicked over to your spot on a whim and was rewarded with the most heartwarming post under the strangest title I had read in awhile. I can’t believe that the bean got chicken pox! I didn’t think chicken pox existed in India, I lived in India until I was 10 and never even had the word mentioned in my hearing. Wow. And I have a biology degree, considered my mind…boggled.
    The best part of the post was when you talked about your reunion with Thambi! You can be quiet together for hours, discuss the most trivial of things AND talk about significant ones with the person who can best understand you.
    Ten on ten, madmomma, ten on ten. I am waiting with bated breath for the pork portion of the title to be fleshed out (despite being a pukka vegetarian).

    • oh my goodness, I think I was lightheaded with relief—-> please don’t cringe too much at the grammatical errors T_T

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