Friday, August 27, 2010

Little Angels

When my daughters were born, I was thrilled. For several reasons.
But then everyone exclaimed how lucky I was to be blessed with two little angels…..”not like boys,” they said, “ you’ll see girls are such an asset, you’ll have peace and quiet and there’s nothing quite like daughters to heal a mother’s soul….”
Ever skeptical, I resolutely went through the enigmatic stages of breast feeding, weaning, bottle feeding, diapers, potty training, the mashed vegetables, the stage when every time I sat to eat, one or the other would want to go to the loo, the stage when all I ever got in a restaurant was mismatched leftovers of food I did not want to eat…and waited for them to turn into the little angels I had been told they would become.
I’m still waiting. The girls are now almost 10 and almost 11 but there is not even the slightest hint of a halo on either head. Even if I squint at them without my contact lens when they are in the shower….no. Not even an illusory soap induced rainbow like aura on their head, much less a golden one!!!!
At a party another mother sighed, “you are lucky you have girls, I have two boys, you can’t imagine the noise and the mess……” I invited her then and there to visit my house. Somehow I manage a semblance of order in the rest of the house, but their room always, but always, looks like a hurricane just passed by. I seriously suspect a ghost lives in that room. I go home from Court after a long day. The cupboard doors are open, flapping about in the wind, clothes are strewn on the bed, books are all over the floor, some naked headless limbless relics of Barbie dolls stick out of the toy basket and the study tables resemble a kabadi khana. And if that’s not enough, a roller skate is strategically placed on the floor so that any unsuspecting entrant will slide halfway across the room to cause serious bodily harm or at least stub the toe.
I yell…two would be “angels” peer at me after some delay… one knows how the room is messy. “But Ma I had closed the cupboard door, Ishadidi must have taken out her clothes….” and “those books we don’t even read, how would I know how it got there, it must be Amisha…..” Sigh. And we don’t have a cat so it must be the ghost!
So I order them to clean up……for ten minutes there are a lot of “stop its” and “shut ups” and “Ma, she’s not helping”…..and then silence. A while later, when my nerves are ready to face it again, I go to their room again. The cupboards are closed but I do not open them for fear of a landslide and I can see Barbie’s limbs peeping from under the cupboard but I settle for it. Because I now have another battle to face…..
Studies. (In the interim, my husband and I have had dinner, he’s gone down to his Chambers, the teacher has made them do their homework, but the pivot joint that joins the skull to the spine has been saved for me…...)
Now I seriously have a complaint for Kapil Sibal. And every teacher, educationist, professor and all those knowledgeable souls who are in any way connected to “educating” the “future of India…” Why on earth do I have teach my kids all those things that I thought I was over and done with quarter of a century ago? And I know mothers who are very knowledgeable and informed…..they dedicate themselves to inspecting the child’s bag when the child returns from school. They attend every parent teacher meeting and school discussion and have a network of other mothers to fall back on when the child is unwell or…(God forbid,) forgets to copy the homework….. I am not one of them. I do not have one single iota of patience in my body. I do not know my daughter’s friends’ mothers, I have no retentive powers when it comes to the alimentary canal of a frog and I seriously do not care that the people in Jammu speak the Dogri language. Yes, I am a self contained selfish individual who does not want to fill her head with useless bits of information…can you imagine, a judge asks me “and what do you have to say to that, Mrs Banerjee?” and after a slight hesitation, I say “ a baby cockroach is called a nymph, the process of growing up is called molting…” Yes, that’s one of my recurring nightmares!
Anyway so there I go. Everything from fractions to HCFs to un enchanting Bengali words that have me frantically reaching for a dictionary to Black Beauty’s rescue from a fire to the fact that Jain holy books were written in an obsolete language called Ardhamagadhi (I think!), those are all saved for me….. I study, I write, I learn poems and I feel like I am back in school again.
I keep telling my husband that I was not made for this life. I should be lazing indolently on my bed in a chilled room all day, servants running at my beck and call and have pet lap dogs who I will cuddle once in a while for diversion…..I’ve even thought of names for the dogs….gin and tonic….and I will call them ginny and toni and when the kids come from school, I'll wave a perfectly manicured finger at them and they shall silently retire to their rooms! Once in a while I shall attend Kitty parties and shop for diamonds…….
Only that is not to be. Here I am stuck in an endless world of climatic zones and bone marrow and hominids. After I have finished battling them with the studies, I badger them till they spend some time at the piano, banging away tunelessly and shout at them while they fuss over dinner. After all my orchestrations I am free. Only it’s usually well past ten o clock, I may have work to do but I am exhausted….. I do what I must and quietly sneak into bed and dream of baby tadpoles wriggling about in court!

Yes, I know my life is full of light, laughter and sunshine. I know my children are the daughters of Life’s longing for itself and I house their bodies and not their souls or something like that as Kahlil Gibran has wisely said. And I know they are little angels in waiting…….
Right now only I am waiting.