I’m moisturising the Bean after her bath – a ritual we follow strictly since her eczema diagnosis when she was born. Out of sheer habit I squeeze her nose bridge and as usual she says Owwww…
Bean – Why do you squish my nose, Mama?
MM: Because you have Mama’s snub nose and I’m trying to make it sharper… like… Cleopatra’s nose!
Bean: I don’t want a nose like Cleopatra
MM: Okay – like, Dora then, or Aishwarya Rai… or…
Bean: I don’t want their noses.
MM: So then what do you want?
Bean: I want my nose to look like it is!
Dear God, thank you! In a world of botox and concealing grey hair and nose jobs and fake boobs, I do hope the little monster stays just as she is…
While on the subject of changing attitudes, we’re walking to the bus stop and the Brat points out to two boys with their mothers.
Brat: Mama, don’t they have fathers?
MM: Of course they do, darling. Why do you ask?
Brat: Because I never see them dropping them to school or playing with them on the swings or taking them on the cycle or swimming with them… like my dada.
You go, OA!
With the househelp issues in Gurgaon, the OA and I are doing dishes, washing clothes, sweeping, scrubbing kitchen cabinets and what not. All this along with our dayjobs and child rearing and socialising. And this is not a good time for anyone to idiotically mention what they do in the West because I swear I’ll rip you to pieces and feed you to vultures.
As a result we’re short on patience and time and temper. We’re also having a huge problem now that we live in a complex and kids keep dropping in to play. Toys are scattered all over the nursery and the house. The Brat and Bean are regular babies who scatter toys around the house, yes, but this is unbelievable. So here is question number one, wise internets – How do I tell other children that they have to put back stuff they pull out? Even though they come with maids, they walk away leaving the nursery looking like a battlefield. Is it rude and unhostessly?
Anyway, so while the Brat and Bean are mostly cooperative in putting their toys away unlike most of our little sahibs and memsahibs who are used to maids cleaning up behind them, there are off days too. This morning the OA and I cleaned up the entire house and came back to flop onto our bed, only to realise it was covered with toys. The OA told the kids to clear up and the Brat who was caught deep in prehistoric times, couldn’t snap out of his time warp and get back to 2010.
He refused to take his stuff away in spite of many warnings and finally the OA swept everything into two little baskets and told them it would go into the dustbin if it wasn’t taken back to the nursery. The Bean grabbed one and but the Brat’s legendary Taurean stubbornness struck and he refused to budge. I was loathe to interfere so I just watched. The Bean who was struggling to carry one, tried to take the other too, but the patient OA snapped too. No – the Brat must carry his share of stuff, failing which it would go in the dustbin. I don’t really blame the OA. I don’t know any other I-bankers in India who work the hours he works and then come back to housework and childcare and tension. This was a situation waiting to explode.
Two minutes of father and son staring each other down and then the OA took the stuff and dumped it in a dustbin. Higgledy piggledy, Bean’s Dora binoculars and a bunch of little elephant pictures too went in. The Bean crying that it was her stuff. The father firm that it didn’t matter. And the Brat watching with teary eyes but refusing to budge. I tried to reason with him, then drag him after his father to rescue the basket, but he stubbornly curled his fingers into little fists and refused to hold the basket. I gave up. He’s walked out of our room. The toys are in the bin and will stay there until the garbage guy comes tomorrow. I wonder whether he’ll bend and come and rescue them or not…
the hindi phrase – Sar pe chadha ke rakhna. The literal translation would be sitting on your head and it means allowing someone to walk all over you. That would pretty much define the Bean’s relationship with her father. She does just as she pleases and this is him trying to work from home one Sunday. She not only sat on his shoulders while he worked, she eventually spread a snotty (ugh!) handkerchief over his head. That is the final straw, I said to myself, and now he’s going to read her the riot act. But then she leaned over, hugged his snotty-handkerchief-covered-face and said, “I love you, daddy. You’re my favourite boy.”
Man, but she plays him like a violin.
come home… Dada misses you like a limb chopped off…
As for me.. meh.. I could live without you…
I often say it takes more than a teaspoon of sperm to make a father. I was wrong. It does take only that much to make a biological father. But it takes a lot more to turn you into a loving dad.
It could be the moment you first beheld that wrinkly monkey face….
Or it could be drawing Lumpy for your pachyderm-crazy spawn in the midst of a busy day.
Brat: Dada..this is your Adam’s apple?
OA: uh huh.
Brat: So where is Mama’s Eve’s orange?
…oooh… good question, that!
Brat: Dada – how did you get an Adam’s apple?
OA: Well, I was eating an apple when Mama told me she was having a baby. I choked on it.
The car drew up to a traffic signal and came to a halt as the light turned red. A truck went by leaving a cloud of smoke and dust in its wake. As the dust settled I saw them standing on the divider.
She was dressed in a brightly coloured salwar kameez, an orange and silver sweater and worn chappals, alta on her feet, looking around, bored. He wasn’t looking around at all and I didn’t notice anything about him except the bundle he held in his hands, swaddled tightly in a grimy blue blanket.
And right there, in the middle of the road, with traffic whizzing by on either side, he bent down and kissed the little pink chapped cheek peeking out. Again and again and again. He couldn’t stop kissing his baby and he didn’t care that he was in the middle of a busy road. And he didn’t care what the world thought about a man so openly smitten by his baby.
The light changed to green, the car jerked to life and sped off. I turned around, craning my neck to keep them in my sight for as long as possible. It’s always beautiful to watch a father falling in love.