Friday, February 21, 2014

Changing professions


Ever since he was six my eight-year-old nephew Vijay, has been changing professions. The idea of taking to one, stuck him when he had his first bus ride. He was thrilled with the smoke belching monstrosity, but what fascinated him most was the confidence of the conductor. He stared with rounded eyes while the conductor demanded money from people and they gave willingly.‘Wow’, he said, “so much money” — he kept looking longingly at the bulging bag of the conductor and as we got down, he announced in manly determination. “When I grow big, I will be a conductor.” For the next couple of months, he concentrated on developing a supercilious air, a boorish manner and a perfectly rude way of saying “ticket.. move on”. He had mastered the mannerisms of the conductor and was only waiting to grow big.

It was the air display that brought about a change in thinking. The school arranged for the children to watch the aerobatics. Vijay came home full of this new experience. He dropped the arrogant swagger of a conductor and went around the house whistling like the wind and the whirring of engines. He flayed his arms and whizzed about, pretending to be aircraft. He was going to be a pilot and do somersaults and cartwheels in the sky.Of course, he had to practice this on the carpet first. A few broken curious and coffee tables had to be overlooked in the interest of the birth of a superman in the sky. Just watching his enthusiastic simulation of an aircraft gave us airsickness!

It wasn’t long before Maradona took over. My nephew sat through the football matches with his father and his tiny feet got active. Nothing was safe. He kicked the cushions in the drawing room, the pebbles on the road, even the frightened little pom Flossy. We had to buy him a ball and that kept him busy. His mother had visions of his making headlines as an ace player and his father started making enquiries about coaching camps. We indulgently watched the future celebrity.

It had to come. The change. Before Vijay could decide on the merits of becoming a goalkeeper as against a quarterback, something else caught his fancy. With his halting lisp and newly acquired expertise, he read about India’s first test tube baby. “Mama”, he asked, ‘‘what’s a test tube”. Unsuspecting of his thoughtful look, she drew a test tube. Vijay watched the bulging stomach of his mother which, he was told, contained a baby and looked at the test tube. “Mama”, he announced, “when I grow big, I will make babies — lots of babies in a test tube. Then you don’t have to keep them in your stomach!”