Friday, February 28, 2014

A man’s three mothers

A man has three mothers-  his mother, his wife and his daughter who influence his three stages in life - his boyhood, manhood and old age.
They say God could not be everywhere so he made ‘Mother’ and it is this emissary of God who shapes the boy into man. She is there, guarding him since the time God wills his existence in the cloistered nook of her womb. Her blood flows into him, her very breath gives him life and nurtures him till he makes his appear­ance in the world with a loud yell announcing his entry.
Each day is a day of discovery for him and he looks up to his constant companion mother to share his achievements. She is his teacher guiding him to higher and newer discoveries; his friend, sharing his joys and his solace. Nursing his physical and mental wounds. When he goes to school his teacher is an extension of the mother image and he lets her mould his mind and thinking.
At home, mother caters to his creature com­forts and waters his mental growth. Her unfathomable love wraps a veil of security round him and within that, he slowly prepares himself for the battle of life. One day, he is sud­denly out of this veil, he is no more ‘boy’ but ‘man’ and he seeks a ‘mother’ for this new role in life. The wife steps in - now the sole influence in his second phase. His mother takes a back seat, but retains his original attachment, for as one of the songs go-  “you can always get another wife, but you can never get another mother in your life.”
The wife is a stranger comes from a totally different set-up. She is seeing the full-fledged man with his set likes and dislikes - and philosophy of life. She has to get used to the stranger, and give him the love he is used to. It is to her that he turns now for all that he sought in his mother. The wife shares his life, his body and soul. With her he shares his most intimate moments. Opens his feelings in their raw state. She now acts as the guide, companion and solace. She can urge him to higher aspirations in life, she can goad him to the baser activities. He draws inspiration from her-  her influence is the greatest on him, she can make or break him and her duty towards him becomes more multi­faceted. She sees him with no mask, the real him, and becomes the mother who held him fresh in all his naked glory. That is why perhaps Browning said that a man has two faces- one he shows the world and the other, his wife.

The daughter then enters his life, bringing varied emotions. Unlike his mother of whom he is a part, the daughter is part of him. The bond of blood which is not there with his wife, is now wound round him and his daughter- who is a combination of the mother and wife.
He seeks in his daughter, a tender relation­ship. He bows to all her wishes, he hangs on every word she says and indulges all her whims, he sees in her his wife’s image, she is the miniature wife whom he can fondle with unsullied affection and this very attraction of hers enslaves, him.

He hands her over one day to another man to be what his wife is to him. So he goes back to his wife-  now a broken man- with a vital part of him gone. By now he is in his second childhood, his mother is no more. It is the wife who assumes the role of mother, wife and daughter. She came to him a total stranger, and remains with him.... his only companion next to his shadow.... isn’t that why the Bible says ‘What God hath joined, let no man put asunder’!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Big boys of Tinyland

 As I look out from the window and watch little children play in the quadrangle, I wonder if coming events do cast their shadows years ahead. The little ones, inno­cent, yet so wordly wise, are miniature adults and observ­ing their behaviour and over­hearing their conversation, I realise the influence we have over their impressionable minds. Their mini world has the same rat race, competition and codes of survival that we adults have to cope with and it is interesting to watch them acquit themselves in the fray and imagine their fu­ture...
Five-year old Tinku will grow up to be a hard boiled business man who will make full use of his assets. He drives hard bargains. He brings with him his video game when he comes to play. “Please Tinku, let me play with your video game”, begs Chotu. “Give me your cycle for ten rounds and you can have two games with my video” is Tinku’s condition. Chotu is thrilled with little mercies and the unfair deal is struck. By the end of playtime, Tinku will have had an enjoyable bicycle ride, eaten two chocolates played with an eletronic toy plane and extracted a promise of a Thums Up-all by lending his video game to his friends on his own terms!

The Adman in the making is little Bunty. He can exagger­ate and improvise so well that his gullible friends gape open mouth­ed and swallow his yams. “My daddy's ship can move so fast… so fast... just like an aeroplane...” he says with such conviction that even I get to believe it. “My uncle is a doctor in America and he has a roomful, of money.. just like Richie Rich..” He’s got a glib tongue, our Bunty…

‘Show off’ Sanju isn’t too popu­lar with his buddies. He talks of his mummy’s diamond necklace, grandpa’s Merce, daddy’s gold cigarette case and lighter and his own digital watch. He’ll grow up to be quite a bore, though he will bring some colour to drab lives with visions of affluence. The little imp says he’s going to Hawaii for a holiday in his grand­pa’s own ship! Some tycoon!

 En­ter the macho man.  The future trade union leader. Tall, hefty Adil, all of six years old, strikes terror in the hearts of the young. He loves dictating terms like - “Here Chotu, let me puncture your bicycle”.. or “Sameer, I don’t like your bat, I’m going to break it...” “Get me a nail, Pa­ras, I want to let the air out of your football...” The surprising thing is he gets what he wants...

The tell-tale Johnny is naturally the most unpopular. Every fall or fight he has, he runs to his mam­ma who obliges by coming and shouting at the errant ones. John­ny will have problems when he grows big. Mama’s can’t be around to fight sonny boys’ bat­tles.

It’s heartening to see Pinku’s punk in contrast. Small and thin, he doesn’t let his physical frailty in the way of his punches. He can take care of himself.

The loner kindles my curiosity. He keeps to himself, quite happy watching others play, fight and enjoy. No one bothers him and he bothers no one. I wonder what he will grow up to be.. a diplomat? a sanyasi? yogi?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When the husband is away

We’ve all heard of the tendency of the mice, when the cat is away! Feeling safe and secure, they prance around, up to all kinds of tricks. The scenario is someway similar when the husband is away! Wives relax, get together, chat and generally live it up. But this takes different forms and let us be shameless and peek into different homes...
·         Sheela is a service officer’s wife. As soon as she learns that her husband has to sail for a week, she gets ready for a busy schedule. She calls up her friend Nina whose husband is also on the same ship. They bid a tearful farewell to their respec­tive husbands and then settle down to plan their own itinerary. Topping the list of ac­tivities is visits to the various galleries holding sales and exhibitions. Instructing the ayah to rustle up some food for the children, they set out, scouring the town for bargains... that’s their routine till the hubbies get back...
·         Sudha, a businessman’s wife, is alone very often as her husband is off on short trips every other day. Tired of shopping, seeing video films and eating in five-star hotels, she takes short trips herself, either to Goa to meet her childhood friend or to Kashmir to attend her niece’s birthday or to Darjeeling to grace her uncle’s 60th wedding anniversary. If nothing exciting, she hops across to Singapore to be with her sister. Having her husband around is a novelty for her...
·         Alka is crazy about films. Her husband hates them. Unfortunately he’s a bank of­ficer and does not go on tours often. When he does, Alka goes berserk, she takes her ayah along and books tickets for all three shows in different theatres. She feeds the kids on two-minute noodles and herself lives on sandwiches, so that every minute is spent fruitfully, watching movies...
·         Sunita looks forward to her sales rep hubby travelling. She is very good at bak­ing and whenever he’s out, she holds bak­ing classes for the neighbourhood ladies. She also belongs to a group of ladies who have cooking demos in each other’s houses. By the time the husband gets back, having reached his sales target, Sunita is nice and plump.
·         Awfully cowed down by her autocratic husband, Seema waits for him to go on his inspections, before she rushes to her mothers. There she lazes around, gets pampered, visits her relatives and friends and gets back into action, playing the docile wife when her excise officer husband gets back...
Alas! The poor working woman —‘it makes little difference to her whether the cat — sorry husband — is around or away! For her, there’s only one way she can play — at work — when the boss is away!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Paying for garbled messages

A very cryptic message was handed over by the ‘telegramwala’ to my son. It read ‘N 122 105 5 SNOQ 11 KHBB ZQZQ NNN!’ The telegram was delivered at 2 a.m. and we rubbed our eyes a couple of times to believe what we saw. Yes, we had read the missive right, but for the love of us, neither my husband, nor my son, nor I, could decipher the strange code. There was no sender’s name either.
The only thing that made any sense was the name of the place it came from and as we have a cousin there, we presumed it could have been from him. But what on earth was he trying to say? We have sent the telegram to the cousin to decipher or rather decode it, presuming he has sent it.
An incurable letter writer, 1 have nothing against the P & T department hiking its postage charges and am even prepared to accept that our postal system is perhaps the best in the world. But our telegraphic philosophy needs a bit of revamping. The first lesson they ought to learn is to get the message and sender’s name correctly. When working for a magazine, I had to shoot off a telegram to a writer who was supposed to submit an article on ‘how to make your eye bath at home’. She was quite puzzled to read the telegraphed message — “how to make your own eye balls at home!!” “Bath or ball?” She asked in the next wire which read “Path or doll”.
Thoroughly confused, I had to call her long distance to clarify the whole matter!
 If distortion is their specialty, delay is a policy. The ra­tionale is, if its bad news better postpone it and if it’s good news it can always wait. After all, anticipation is sup­posed to be better than realisa­tion. There are any number of instances of my brother wanting to meet me at the airport, but thanks to a delayed telegram, finding himself at the mer­cy of taxi drivers out to loot. My friend was pretty embarrassed when her in-laws arrived and they were having a cocktail par­ty at home. “Didn’t you get the telegram?” they asked, feeling piqued that they were con­sidered intruders. Of course, the telegram did come, two days later!
As a policy, I have decided to stick to E mails. This is the result of my experience some time ago in the office. I had to send an urgent message to our branch office “Your 10M handed to me.   Will reciprocate”. The branch manager, I believe, went beet red while he read, “Your love handed to me. Will reciprocate!”
A Professor got a telegram announcing ‘your cat died’, sent by his assistant. He got angry with him for breaking the bad news so abruptly. He told him that he should have prepared him by first sending a telegram saying ‘your cat was on the roof….’ Next time, the Professor got a telegram from his assistant saying ‘your mother was on the roof’…