Daughter Diaries

“The father of a daughter is nothing but a high class hostage”

A Riot Of Colour

A riot of colour and a rich fodder for thought!

She is in a sparkling pink and I in an odd blue. Her eye for colours catches my ear. For every time she chooses one, she exclaims aloud. “Red” “Blue”. And so on. She paints with tentative strokes first. Then come bold ones. After a while, she says “Over”. A riot of color is all that remains as she darts away to play. I look at her work. Her strokes fill my heart with happiness. This moment has been the highlight of this festive season.

Festivities are about colour to the senses. You feel a sense of completion to be with close ones and do simple things. A feeling that escapes description and begs for it to be let easy. Diwali especially is a feast for all senses. Homes get lit. After being cleaned and washed. Sweets get made in abundance. And There are no reasons to not tuck in the extra one. There is noise in the air ( not to speak of discounts and offers in every shop and website ). A ‘cannot be missed’ warmth in people. The security guard smiles a little extra even as the stern neighbour nods just a tad more in acknowledgment. You are benign with the odd gasbag who spams your inbox with a ‘Happy Diwali’ message, consigning his message to the recycle bin with a smile.

As the festival wind thin, a thick question remains. A question that my little miss posed to me: “Why can’t every day be Diwali?” Indeed, I thought. Why can’t it be?

Why can’t there be this richness in our daily life? A richness that exudes colour, space and that little bit of warmth that can add so much more to our lives. Kindness, acceptance, some accommodation. Some peace. A way of thinking that is inclusive and respectful. That after all is the spirit of Diwali. For that matter, that after is the spirit of all major festivals of the world!

As I gazed hard at her random brush strokes, the gaiety in her question only pointed to possibility and choice. We have the choice, I told myself. To live it up in a simple, kind way. Perhaps we need to be reminded that this choice exists until we don’t have to be reminded. A choice that we can consciously make. A choice to revel in abundance and to forever seek to live a life that is of meaning.

A new energy coursed my veins. A riot of colour, as I call this piece, will be my north star of sorts, I told myself. A north star that reminds me that in a world that leans towards mono-chromatic rhythms, multicoloured richness is important. That is being human by soaking in all the richness we come endowed with.

So this Diwali, I have a wish for you. A wish that comes from my daughter and everybody around. May the festivities never end. May we lead a life soaked in colour and joy. May we have the courage to wander yet be decisive. May the humanness in us overpower the insecurities that seep in. May our life be something to someone. May we be kind to one another. May there be a riot of colour.

 

A riot of colour

 

 

Tape Recorder times

Our world of toys has a new energy and long hours: Lego bricks. What they transform to from being an empty assortment of grooves, protrusions, wires and protrusions is beyond fantastic. There is a logical reason for this new found passion. But that for another time.

For now, recounting an evening with the little miss.

That evening we were building a tape recorder. Me, the little miss and a silly heap of bricks. It seemed like an easy project to finish before dinner.  But it turned out otherwise. It took us a few sittings.  We would build and stare at what’s emerging and shake our heads. Half in disgrace of what was emerging and the other half in disquiet.

Midway through I wondered why it took such a long time. To my mind, we had cracked far more complex contraptions with far less effort. Most times with a hurried yank, a precise stare and an impromptu smile. This time, we had furrowed brows and murky frowns. We weren’t getting anywhere for a long time. We were done finally with a dash of colour at the top.  It was almost like we had climbed an impossible mountain.

Why did it take us so long? In hindsight, the answer was staring at my face from the time that we set out to build.  The answer was clearly on her face. (And I could see it only when I replayed it in my memory). For a confused stare had descended upon her when we chose to build a tape recorder. It became apparent to me later, that the tape recorder was a fancy science fiction gadget, that she had never ever experienced.

The closest she had come to experiencing one was to see it at her grandma’s place. One that still manages to spout songs from the radio but the cassette deck refuses to open.

The magic of the cassette deck opening, the ‘clunk’ of the loading and the physical pressure that would take to switch on the play button to get deft songs playing out of defined speakers were an integral part of my growing up years. Not to forget the twaddle of wires that we had to roll out if ever we wanted to set up speakers in another room.  These of course are as ancient as the  Pharaohs of the Nile to her modern day mind that is more used to deft devices and intangible play. When much of music is in the air and music streams in like monsoon rain from unseen clouds, the world has indeed moved on.

The next day evening, she had a few questions for me and we sat down to talk a bit about my ‘tape recorder times’! Of how it was in the ‘good old days’. And for everything that I explained to her, I had to give her a modern day equivalent for her to connect to. Native toys and some of the games we used to play and the people we played with. Of my schools. Of my friends. Of my brother. Of my dad. Of my mom.

The moment we came to my mom, she jumped, ‘Ah that’s my paati (grandma)’. ‘You just called her your mom’. And for some reason, her eyes filled even as a nervous laughter leapt through the evening rain. I don’t know why my eyes filled to the brim in great speed too.

To think that the absent tape recorder caused this memory shower threw a sigh into the air. As the rain pelted its singular rhythm on the window,  I reached out for a hot coffee, humming ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

A new year swings in! Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017.

2016 has been a heck of a year. I still remember the same time a year ago when I sat down to see a new dawn. It seemed to run in along with a lot of a promise and hope. And suddenly it is today and a brand new year is at the door! Just as what was the case last year. This year hustles while it waits. So much so, I can hear its wait! 

The little miss is all about the house as has been her wont. I have spent some part of the last year, growing up with her. More often than not, becoming present to how fast time flies away by just watching for every minute change in her and succeeding to spot a few as they happened. For large part though, I must confess, wondering how it happened!

Like when she asks me what is an ‘office’ and ‘what happens in an office’? And of course, the next inevitable question: ’What is Work?’  I am sure this isn’t unique to her or me. It must be on the lips of many kids as they stand up and begin to explore the world. It is easy to give ‘some’ answer but then the real answer is a bit beyond cursory search. 

‘Can you be a teacher in my school?’, she asked the other day. With half a popcorn in her lips and a sparkle in her eyes.

‘Sure’. I said. It is the most inviting approval I have had of 2016. Something that I can gloat about. ‘Can we begin tomorrow?’, she asked. If there was ever a heart that skipped a giant beat on hearing a job offer, it would pale in comparison to mine that day!

Or of this time, when she said ‘Push me higher Appa’. On a swing by a lake in idyllic Mount Abu. I was a tad scared, for this was a swing that was just there in the midst of undergrowth and uneven ground. A plank of wood, two pieces of a rope all on one sturdy tree branch. That made the swing.  ‘Dont be scared, Appa’ She said. With a silly smile as an enduring accompaniment as the swing climbed newer heights.  ‘I am going higher on my own Appa. You don’t be scared’.

For a moment, I didn’t know if I should clap in joy or wince in despair. After all I was expecting these lines down the road. After many years!  I brought a smile on plastic dry lips and clapped.  ‘Letting go isn’t easy’ I told my missus over dinner that night. Silence stayed tall in the room as we munched on some veggies. ‘It isn’t easy at all’ added the missus in-between all her munching. I wast sure if she was talking of the veggies. That’s part of the plan for this year. Munching more veggies that is. And yes, ‘letting go’ of stuff that we have been holding on to is also part of the plan! 

A couple of days ago, we were at the movies with the little miss in tow.  Dangal. The movie that everyone is raving about. The movie about a father who lives his dreams of winning a gold medal for the country by getting his daughters to do so, long after his prime.  The melodramatic storyline with wrestling bouts that go on predictable lines to leave India with a gold medal and left me with a stern headache. A headache that only loosened up when the little miss looked into my eyes and asked: ‘Appa, they did all this for one medal?’

I smiled ear to ear.

As the same Sun rushes in a new year, these and her other questions dawn on me with new meaning.  I don’t have all the answers. But the very fact that the questions are here is enough to keep me on the swing of life. For that I am thankful.

I wish you more questions and deeper conversations!

Happy New Year 2017! Here’s to a fabulous 2017

Roller Skates memories

She has got wheels to her feet now. She is learning to move forward with them. Roller Skates are something that I have never climbed on to. Other than the once that I did many years ago and thought I was falling in love with the sudden spurt speed that it seemed to give me. Even as I was falling in love with, I fell hard on my face. Literally. And in every other sense of the word. I had declared then that Roller Skates were for the crazy ones.  Retreating to the familiar wear and tear of the old cricket bat, a bunch of incorrigible friends and the unbearable Sun. Roller Skates memories make me squint my eye today.

For today, the little Miss walked with her Roller Skates. Her first class. The picture of calm that I wore on the surface was tearing at its seams inside me, as anxiety ridden memories ebbed. Oblivious to all this, she walked and waved, with a dozen missteps and two dozen ‘near misses’!

The little miss has this unique magic wand in her that brings my own memory alive. These are memories that are so dormant in me, that I never knew were there in the first place. Of my first fall. The words of my dad and mom. The caressing hand of my grandmother. Every now and then, when the little miss says something or does something, my mind wanders and wonders with an unfailing memory pop up.

Several parents I know vouch for this. Their memories stand rekindled by their kid’s action, they too say. As she uses new words, demonstrates new grasp and generally unpacks what is packed into her, the wonder that is creation, does a wild jig in my mind. Bringing up children, my mom tells me often, happens in a jiffy. ‘Savour every moment’, she often says. The touch of lament and a dash of memory of the good old times, I cannot miss.

Even so, I am reasonably sure that I will miss these times. Of walking the little miss to school and taking her to her first Roller Skates class. Time and its many wheels will speed the minutes away leaving us with memories of moments that have sped by. So today, as she makes takes her gentle trod on those wheels, I realise, it is a moment to savour. She does far better than me. She has had fun. She has her friends. And her new wheels.

She finishes, asks for water and asks me, ‘Appa, why don’t you try?’

I smile first. And then laugh. As my eyes unconsciously well up, I realise that’s exactly what my dad asked me. Another of those memories that was tucked away in an inner whorl of the brain popped out to say ‘hi’!

Back then, I remember having told Appa that I would much rather play cricket with the boys. I can’t tell that to the little miss. The boys have all gone their way to sport their BMWs and beer bellies with aplomb . Cricket is not the game it used to be. Even the Sun sports an angrier hue these days.

I laugh with her. I tell her, ‘Next week’.

She laughs.

As the wheels of time spin fast, next week too will also come and go.

Of cows and independence day!

The little miss, as is her wont these days, has been shooting me a heap of questions. There is not a thing that passes the attention of her senses that just passes by without a question popping up. Be it an earthworm, a snail, a ridiculous honk from an autorickshaw, the neighbour’s loud movie screening, the sartorial choices of her mom (& dad ) etc etc. You get the drift right?

Me and the missus have had to work overtime to ensure that we engage with each of her questions and give her answers. Most of the time she ends with a ‘whatever’ look. Especially when I attempt to answer. The missus fares better.

The ‘whatever’ look is what I remember my physics teacher reserving for me, in school.   She would ask a question and her eyes would droop so much that they would be waiting to roll down her cheek if I was late by another moment. Her shoulders would drop and a smug smile would lurk at the corner of her lip. Her whole body language would seem to be so much waiting in expectation of a ridiculously inept answer. I guess I met her expectations every single time. I would dread those classes.

It is kind of dreadful to think that the little miss reminds me of that time. The only difference now is that the little miss forgets the inept answer in a jiffy and moves on to some easier stuff at the wave of a hand. Like, ‘Can I go touch that cat Appa?’ Or even, ‘can we go say hello to the rain drop appa’? Now, these are like lifebuoys to someone in a cesspool. We survive with her kindness and love.

She has been excited about the Independence Day for over a week now.

“Appa, when are you buying me a gift?”

“A gift? But why?”

“It is India’s birthday appa!”

I realised that thats how Independence day has been positioned in her mind.  Gandhi, Nehru and the freedom struggle can come much later.  For now, if there are some festoons, cake, pizzas and a gift to boot, all is well. Fortunately, the gifts that she has demanded haven’t yet gotten to meaningless stuff that pops a hole in the pocket. A national flag was all that was desired this time around and was dutifully bought too.

So today, on the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, after the flag hoisting ceremony in the apartment complex where we live in,  came another string of questions.

“If we hoist a flag for India’s birthday, why didn’t you hoist one for my birthday?”

Patient explaining ensued.  Of India having a flag and it being a country and that individuals don’t have a flag etc. Inept answers, I can guess. With drooping shoulders she proclaimed, ‘Appa, once we go home, I am going to draw my flag. You have to hoist it for my birthday”.

I demurred in agreement. “My flag will have a cow and a cat in it Appa”.

“A COW?” I spluttered.   The nation would want to know now.  An involuntary muttering of ‘Holy Cow’ under my breath reached her sharp ear.

“Not holy cow Appa”, she said. “Just one nice cow”.

Silence ensued. And then with a momentary pause she asked, ‘what is a holy cow Appa’? I didn’t know where to start. Or end, for that matter. And then, she threw me a lifeline. Actually two.

“If you don’t like the cow, let’s just have the cat in the flag Appa. It is easy to draw the cat “.  A huge sigh of relief clung to the air as Lata Mangeshkar ruled the Independence Day sound waves of the apartment complex.

And then she said, “Can we go to the play area and slide Appa?”.  She was on her way to the play area and shouted out a changed plan.  “I have been on the slide for sometime Appa. Today can you push me higher on the swing?”

“Of course”, I said. “Of course”

 

Tom Sawyer moments

I have something called a Tom Sawyer moment. Amongst my childhood heroes, Tom Sawyer is one heck of a kick ass dude. His successes with Becky Thatcher aside, his ingenuity to get a group of friends whitewash the fence was jaw-dropping awesome as a kid. It remains jaw-dropping AWESOME as an adult with a paycheck.

For ages I have hankered for a Tom Sawyer moment in my life. A moment when what got handed out as a punishment morphs into something quite different. A happy time when a lofty proposition is made loftier and transformed into a fun happy time.

A few weeks ago after some insane amount of peering into monitors and hammering away at the keyboard, the missus sentenced me with the responsibility of taking care of the little miss. When it became clear that I perhaps would end up enjoying it all, she threw in another angle. There would be two other kids that might join in.

Without much ado, we got working. The girls had to first scamper around and collect as many dry leaves as could be found in the garden. Then for strewn flowers. It took them an effort but they had a whale of a time. After which, came the task of arranging it all for display.

 

flower

Their hands were a dark shade of brown. The colour of the soil with assorted grime that came about by heckling the wind and peddling joy. When playtime neared its end everyone was happy. The mommies were happy that their tasks were behind them. The morose gardener let loose a rare smile and a good word to the girls to see most of his cleaning done.

As for me, my Tom Sawyer moment had arrived. The girls have said they want to do it again and one of them put it in simple terms. “Uncle, I will share my lollipop with you”

Plus, the little miss was one proud bundle. ‘My daddy’ she said. The moments that stay in memory are the unannounced and silly times. They whizz by. Slow down, put out your hands and watch them fall into your life.

Life teaches everyday. If only we care to listen.

 

Tom sawyer 1

The Pink Pony

Days turn into nights. And nights lead to day. The repetitive patterns that lead to the next day, the next week, the next month and the next year form a beautiful facade that keeps in obscurity the years that speed by.

Then the years reveal themselves. Sometimes the mirror tells the story.  As a stray strand of grey morphs into a lock of plentiful grey. When a parent passes away, the realisation is stark. When a friend passes away, it is pronounced.  The parting of the beautiful facade, often comes in a reality check, happening in sorrowful environs.

Sometimes they do in moments of pure joy. Especially, if you have a little daughter like mine.

So the little miss has been going to school. She enjoys it and has had a great deal of fun thus far. One day in the last week, after a long and tiring day, I creep into bed.  Long after the little miss’s bed time. As the silence beckons me further into slumber, she wakes up. Realising that I have crept in and wakes me up too, demanding that the lights come on.

She is all excited and she wants to show me her ‘Pink Pony’. She opens her palm to reveal a small piece of plastic. I see the effect of her clutching it hard are showing on the palm too. The Pink Pony spread some pink to her palm as well.  She obviously has been waiting to show me. ‘Aryan gave it to me papa’ she said. In sleep soaked excitement. I gave her a bear hug ad asked ‘was it his birthday today?”

PP1

“No Appa”. She says. A tad disappointed and perhaps surprised at an antiquated line of thought.

“He gave it only to me”. She says with emphasis on the ‘only’.

“Ah”. I say.

With curiosity dripping out of every word I ask , ‘That sounds like fun. Tell tell me, tell me more’

“Because I like pink colour Appa”.  And that was that.

With those words she slips back into sleep. Clutching the pink pony and happy that her little secret was no longer just hers. I stare at her for a while and switched off the lights.  Her innocence and joy override my tired mind.

The next morning comes with the precision that is customary.  The missus catches me shooting darts into the clouds. “Thinking of the Pink Pony?”, she asks. “It is some toy that they give out in a Fast Food chain”, she says. I smile. I am thinking of something else.

She knows me well by now. She jumps tracks and joins my train of thought.

“She is no longer the tiny toddler that you carried on the sling” she says. I smile. “She is not the toddler who would purr like a cat to get some milk”.

I nod my head in silence. Even as I soak up the Pink Pony moment, I realise, it was riding away into the inner whorls of memory.  The simplicity of childhood, the sincerity of affection and the joys of watching kids growing up, can be the best way to age gracefully. Even as day turns to night and night to day, children add a rich melodrama to a vague momentum.  And that is precious.

A peek into the future

“How about taking your daughter to KidZania and having a good time?”, the good folks at Blogadda asked.  Now, several friends had spoken about the place as a vibrant vivacious fun place for kids. God bless their good souls. If anyone gives me an opportunity to try and bring a smile to the little miss, well they grab a piece of my heart. ‘Yes’, I said and they arranged it all. Seeking to experience the place first hand and see what the world was coming to.

Some search later, the facts seemed to hold promise. To say the least. A Mexican entrepreneur Xavier Lopez Ancona ( & a former managing director of a Private Equity business with GE) wove this idea from nothing and its mushrooming into a sought after, profitable global franchise held allure. Currently, the only Indian franchise is the one at Mumbai’s R City Mall at Ghatkopar. The perpetual dusk setting within, the sculpted roads & stores, the services are all supposed to be similar in every franchise around the world to exacting detail. Including the fuselage of a plane that juts out of the building!

The place is a city in itself. With immigration counters and stamping etc to enter. The immigration folks being cheerful and helpful was a dead give away that this after all is a make believe world that we were entering. Everything else is real. In fact, a tad too eerily real. Real clean sculpted pavements, real products and services that go out on a limb to recreate life as it exists outside, with a charter and a bill a of rights drawn up by children. Suave marketing, methinks, but its a story well told.

IMG_3155

From health services, fire service ( the sirens of the ambulance and a fire engine that do the rounds at a periodic interval can capture attention with a snap of a finger), their own supermarket, a cop station, a radio station, replicas of factories that make stuff from soft drink to cereals etc etc, the place packs a punch. Plus of course, to complete the milieu, KidZania has its own ‘currency’ and a bank (with adult tellers) to boot. A ‘fully functional economy’ of sorts!

Speaking of the economy, the place reeks of real life brands, which must vary from country to country and speaks of hardcore commerce. For example, when the kids play courier delivery folks, they work for DHL. Radio City when they work as a Radio Jockey. Hyundai for the cars. Camlin. Coca Cola, Nerolac. Yes Bank. etc etc. They are all there. Soaking up the kids and their attention. Consumerist reality is everyday reality for all ofus in the real world and that is an unmistakable part of the business model of KidZania

IMG_3118

IMG_3165

The idea is simple. Kids from the age of 4 to 14 choose to do various jobs ( from being firemen, dabbawallas, doctors on call etc are paid in Kidzos the local currency, and then dispense it on artistic pursuits like drawing greeting cards, pottery lessons, or simply spending it on food and fun.  Or they can save up the money, deposit in the bank within and use it again in the next visit. Its quite a load of fun for the children. For they get to play multiple roles and for parents get to have a voyeuristic peep into the future. The little miss enjoyed playing a fireman, and going about the fire engine with its loud bells and screaming sirens. She played doctor. And then a super market assistant. She would come back with a wad of currency from each of these places and dutifully hand it over to the missus.

Me and the missus walked about soaking up the place.

We watched kids run around as courier delivery folks. They queued up to clean tall buildings. To paint walls. Of course it was part of play. Never since Tom Sawyer was there this enthusiasm in painting, I must say! There are adult instructors for each activity, who hold court handing over the necessary costume and setting up the boundary conditions and instructions for the kids to play their part. An education, it surely provides kids with with.  One way of adding perspective is to soak into different jobs. To empathise with people is to ‘step into someone else s shoe’, as the cliched expression goes. Kids get to be adults and play different roles. Each activity lasts approximately 20 minutes and no kid I could see had a shortage of excitement there.

IMG_3124

Play is an integral part of learning. Especially so in children. The little miss had such a whale of a time doing all that she got to do. She told us after successfully ‘putting out a fire’, that fire can be ‘dangerous’, with a roll of her eyes. The setting for some tremendous learning to happen is endearing and complete.

On second thoughts, it is near complete.

It is near complete for it is a replication of adult real life as it stands today, it comes a tad too close in making a linear extension of the present day life into the future and overlaying a materialistic mindset on impressionable minds.  That’s at least the feeling I was left with all through. Particularly so, when a tall kid who was playing the role of a courier boy brushed past us, pushing his trolley in infinite hurry. He turned for a minute to give us another look and then went his way with his darting lunges as his Kidzo notes awaited him. In the fully functional economy of KidZania, kids could learn more about adult life than perhaps adults themselves would care to acknowledge. Running around to ‘make money’ and then ‘spend’ it on ‘artistically creating greeting cards’, ‘Pottery lessons’ etc is part of our story. Now, that’s why it struck me as a linear extension of the present into the future.

It is a scary future, where money will continue to have currency over our thoughts and ‘finding meaning’ in life is a distant and dead thought. Perhaps it is a practical and the most likely future as well. The hours at KidZania prepares kids for this kind of a future. Helping them experience reality in safe circumstances, teaching them options and choices for a material world. On how it perhaps would be and what all they would need to do to get ahead. Parents who have this as the most secure future for their children, will simply adore the place.

For those of you parents who imagine a different future, where a life of purpose and meaning without a wad of currency notes dictating what our kids should end up doing, KidZania is quite an experience. For the parents that is. Atleast, it was for me. For it gives a well calibrated peak into the future and nudged me to seek and exercise the right choices now, for an alternate narrative to take root in the little miss’s mind. Possibilities abound. The changing nature of creative work, the fundamental changes that technology has brought to us, the importance of conversation, relating to one another and building relationships, the joy and curiosity in discovery. A heap of such things struck me as possible. Building these into the little miss’s choice set and creating a base of enduring interest there, is work cut out for me.  In the times we live in, its not child’s play.

At KidZania, you could retire to the luxurious parents lounge there(sponsored by Urban Ladder) , (where the kids aren’t allowed) or plough into some cheese Pizza and masticate these thoughts. For you have the time. The staff at the place are friendly to a fault and have an endearing demenour that helps kids gravitate to them like iron fillings to a magnet, leaving you with nothing much to do. Unless of course, you would want to capture every inch of your kid’s experience, every smile, wince, whine, laugh on every possible device – mobile phones, digital cameras, tablets and the like. If you belong to the latter category, you can run behind the fire engine and chase the ambulance like Paparazzi, clicking pictures and recording videos of kids, getting to be adults. To an uncharitable eye it can appear to be an elaborate fancy dress pageant with some high tech props in tow, but to some parents it is a priceless experience.

The entry fee is steep but perhaps it is worth the experience. It is a good place to check out. It sure will get your kid excited (especially so, if he/she has a friend along) and by natural consequence, get you smiling. If you are someone like me, it perhaps will get you to think hard about how incomplete the loud voices for leaving a good planet behind for our children are.  A pretty planet is pointless, if we don’t work the right perspectives into kids who will inherit it.

Goldilocks & learning

It was late in the evening when calls landed on my mobile. This was from home. One call. And in a matter of minutes, five missed calls. Either something was wrong or the little miss was upto mischief again. It turned out to be the latter. ‘Papa I have something for you. Come home fast’. She says.

“Of course, Of course I am coming” all set to get back into the meeting that I have stepped out of, half in panic. “I have brought Goldilocks home” she says as we hang up. I re-enter the room with a half smile on my lips. The other half suppressed beyond measure.

The little miss has been going to summer school. Play time for her. A variety of ‘art’ pieces have been emerging every evening that have warmed my heart no end.  Her art teacher has told the missus that she has a ‘knack for art’.

Take a look at this. Where, mamma looks cool and and pappa looks a tad younger. But hey, who am I to complain. For the artist in her staying alive and well all through her life, counts amongst the most soulful of my prayers.

Kay

 

Those were from the previous weeks. Since then, she has brought me “mamma bear” and “baby bear” bear.  I was hoping she would be making ‘Pappa bear’ but Goldilocks seemed to have pipped Pappa bear to the post! I sink into the comfortable chair, thinking of Goldilocks. The story of Goldilocks is quite a simple yet pretty deep one. It even gave rise to the profound ‘Goldilocks Principle

By the way, I first typed ‘Goldielocks’ and was lead on a different path.  A scrawny scroll of the thumb on the gorilla glass toughened mobile phone lead me to the urban dictionary that offered five different meanings for Golideilocks“.  The urban dictionary often reminds me of my rural lineage.

I reach home in a bit. And then the little miss runs up. “Papa here is your Goldilocks” she says. Remarkable what an old ice cream stick and a few pieces of colour when strung together by the daughter can do to a father’s heart. I smile. The innocence of her world is only matched the simplicity of her needs. The earnestness in the expression buffeted by the incoherence in the words.

IMG_3097

She lays the three pieces side by side. Mamma bear, I notice, has a necklace and beautiful blue flower. Goldilocks looks cool. But Baby bear with her restless love, looks set for mischief. Just like the one in real life. She asks,  ‘Papa, do you like Mamma bear or Goldilocks’?

I cast a sideways glance at the missus. Who is busy with her errand. Her eyes focused on the errand but her ears tuned into our conversation and catching every sigh and pause amidst the words. I toggle with the idea of pulling the missus’s legs. For just a wee bit.

I laugh out loud. And tell the little miss that I go with whatever her choice is.

She thinks for a bit and says, ‘Mamma bear’!

“Good choice” I say.

A while later, we sit around the dinner table.  The missus says with a mischievous wink, ‘You should have tried’. She pauses. I look up and straight into her eyes. With mischief doing a wild dance she says, “You should have tried saying you prefer Goldilocks over Mama bear”.

I swallow the piece of chappati and drink some water, thanking my stars.  Sometimes, providence provides pathways that prudence takes the credit for. In the meanwhile, word is out that Pappa bear has to do more than what he does now to get featured atop an ice cream stick.

Growth pangs

We sit in the balcony. Me, the missus and the little miss. I stare aimlessly into the sky and swishing the humid air around. She sits with a mild frown. A frown that announces her irritated wondering on why her mother is insistent on her finishing an odd part of a silly thing called ‘idly’. It is part of our routine. The acrobatics and drama that are required to feed her.

The missus’s unwavering resolve to feed her an extra piece of food than the previous time, whenever that was, stays on course. A morsel of rice more. Two pieces of ‘bhindi fry’. A silly portion of a small idly. Whatever. It just had to be more than the record before. Progress is painstakingly slow as you can imagine. Nevertheless, there is a score that is kept meticulously in her mind. A challenge that the missus has worked on with zeal. Like a cricket statistician who will announce in the middle of a dry game, ‘this is the first time two runs have been scored off the third ball, bowled by Mr.X, when the Sun is out and two pieces of cloud dot the sky’. Or something like that.

Today, the little miss is more than the handful that she is usually. With a couple of playful pirrouettes that permeate joy in their silly incoherence she tells the missus, ( in an exacting tone and intonation that I get spoken to several times), ‘Have some patience please’. She then pirrouettes one more time and smiles. That naughty smile that emerges from the corner of her lips give away the fact that it is a calculated strike. Our silence signals to her that her mission is accomplished.

The stunned silence is only interrupted by a muffled chuckle that I would have typed ‘ROTFL’ were I online! The silence returns. Sometimes the future arrives without telling. We always noticed the daughter imitate one of us. A small sigh here. Or a comment there. But this is impeccable.

It announces a few things. That she has a sense of humour. That she is awesome cool in soaking up something and redeploying it someplace else with a telling ease. A few more thoughts flow. It takes a minute more for me to accommodate the thought that she is growing. That she is changing. Change happens in small packages. And then these small packages coalesce like an irreverent assortment of patches of cloud that announce a coming together by thunder and rain! It puts me in a tetchy frame of mind. Growth pangs, if you will.

Like the other day.

We were busy shaping a very pliant assortment of play dough with all our might. Me and the little miss. As the play dough took shapes that an adult would describe as a useless lump of waste material, her imagination flew into another sphere. I tried clambering on to her flight, tossing pressing worries aside and co-navigating vast alleys of her imagination. After about two hours of intense work with the play dough, we had a few more lumps to show. And that was that. But to her, it was the world. Of particular interest to her was a sad red lump of what was intended to be a car. In a matter of minutes her tiny fingers messed around with it for some more time. Before she announced “Appa, look at the boat”.

IMG_20150426_113005

The deformed tyres of the erstwhile car, she announced,  were herself and me.  With seamless ease she belted a story.  “Once upon a time there was a boat”. Immaculate imitation of how I read her, her bedtime stories. I was, in more ways than one, listening to my own voice with the sing song intonation and all that. My ears perked waiting for the next few lines. By then, her mission stood accomplished. ‘That is the end of the story’.

That was two-three weeks ago.

Today, with the threat of the idly safely dispatched, we sit down and say goodbye to the moon. That too is part of our routine. She waves and says, ‘Goodbye moon’ as is our wont. Over the last three years and so many months.

Today, for the first time, she says, ‘Appa I dont like the moon. He is not waving back.’ Its a subtle shift. Or rather a significant subtle shift. That a response is sought from the likes of the moon and a disappointment pervades in the absence of a response.

I stare into the moon and its unblinking radiance, becoming ever so present to how fleeting time is.  Change is inevitable. It signals progress. Growth is good. The slipping of time, like sand through the fingers, causes pangs.