Sunday, February 24, 2013

Its that time of the year again!

It's exam time. So I tip-toe around the house so as not to disturb the little darlings when they are studying. And they "study" everywhere. The dining table, the sofa, the guest bedroom, even the piano is littered with textbooks and hastily scribbled gibberish which they insist are notes. Yes, you got it. They study everywhere except at their study tables. I should just turn their room into a swimming pool, take a deep breath and stay underwater until the exams are over.
Coming back to where I was, here I am trying to maintain peace and a feeling of calm, conducive for studying peacefully. Peace. Did I say peace? That's impossible. You see, "she took my eraser and Ma, she licked my earphones and she will not share her colour pencils and she lost my compass and she is not studying and she is kicking my chair and she pulled my hair and she is hiding in the loo and playing with the ipad and she is reading so loudly and LOOK MA, SHE IS HUMMING AGAIN!"
I've tried separating them but they gravitate to each other. I take that as a good sign and ignore them. But that's impossible.
So after a round of weak 'shut up's and 'stop disturbing your sister' without any success I march in to where ever they are. I make them sit up straight, stop slouching and remove all distractions like Archies Digests, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the PSP that has been shoved under some papers as soon as they heard me approach. I try a lecture about how it is their responsibility and it's high time they knew what was good for them and I refuse to nursemaid them by sitting there and for good measure I add that if their grades do not measure up they are not coming for the summer vacation with us! They know the drill. They listen. It usually works until I have left the room. The 'shut ups' and 'I will tell' are softer now. I settle back into my Smurf Village.
One daughter strolls in,"I don't understand this."
"This" is of course the whole Science book.
"But you have Science tomorrow, no? What were you doing for so long?"
"I was doing Geography."
"Because I like it."
You cannot argue with that kind of logic. And Science has to be learnt.
So I bite back the harsh words I was going to say and we spend two hours going over the chapters.
Obviously she has no notes, she falls from the sky as if this is the first time she has heard the word 'mass' and has no recollection of anything being taught in school. As she looks at me wide eyed, I snap,"what were you doing when they taught you?"
She smiles coyly, "I like it when you teach."
Yes, I am a sucker for things like that. I smile vaguely. I tell her to learn diagrams and revise this, that and the other.
And I go to find the other beauty.
She is lying in the guest bedroom book open on her face, fast asleep.
The cordless phone is next to her. Discharged.
I shake her awake.
"I'm resting," she protests.
"Well, you've been resting all day.Get up and study!"
As I leave the room she says shyly, "Ma, will you read this for me?"
A piece of Bengali literature. Thankfully it's an interesting one by Satyajit Ray. I read. Then she makes me read another and another. I am filled with disgust.
"And where were you when they taught this in Class?"
"Choir practice."
Prompt comes the answer. As it has for the last week for any subject or any class you ask her. It seems all she does in school is attend choir practice! She should be Lata Mangeshkar by now!
I mutter something obnoxious about what I think of her choir and leave the room.

I wish I could say they study seriously after all that. There's still the shouts, the occasional outbursts as each one picks on the other. Somehow amid all that I hope they are also learning something  I was a pretty independent child myself. Managed my studies without anyone having to play nursemaid although I do admit it all happened in the last minute. All along all I have ever wanted are the two little angels I was promised when they were born. All that I dream of are two good, well behaved polite girls who will not fight and live in harmony under my roof and share the same joys in life. I want them to manage their studies with no interference from me, do their assignments and projects on time and neatly put away their books at the end of the day.
Instead. Instead, what do I have here? We'll have to discuss that some other time. I have to go now.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Occupational hazard

I am, as you all know, an Advocate. Practicing in the Honorable High Court at Calcutta. So every morning I am dented and painted and I make my way to the Court. Once there, I am quite serious. My hair is severely pulled back, I do not smile much, (there's very little to smile about, anyway) growl at strangers and even manage to frighten myself.  And of course I go about my work with all the sincerity I can muster and you can even see me rushing from place to place like I am the busiest lawyer on the planet.
But don't  let it fool you. 
I am also a whimsical blogger and part time writer and a lot of my literary or poetic endeavors are composed in my spare time in Court at the Bar Library Club where you will often find me sitting in my corner pecking away at my laptop save for when I am laughing with my friends or eating hot samosas or drinking endless cups of coffee. Yes, I keep myself busy.
I am also the homemaker, whatever that means, exactly. I have decided it means short order cook, driver, maid, cleaner, washing machine, you know, the works. I do all this with an efficiency that I never knew existed inside me. 
But then above all this, I am a mother. A dubious distinction to say the least!
So this morning after the kids had been bundled off to school here I was, dented-painted, suited-booted, mind full of all the balderdash for the day, wondering if I could seriously pull it off....ready for another hectic day at Court when I got a call from the school. Would I kindly send a car for my elder daughter who is unwell? Naturally I waited till she came home. Naturally I stayed home after she came because she has a severely upset stomach and tummy ache and has been to the loo four times since morning! Now, four spoons of mashed raw banana which I had to really coax her into, one glass of nimbu paani and another visit to the loo later, she has fallen asleep. 
"Aww, poor child," you say? 
I can only pull a face and submit: there's nothing 'poor' about that one, believe you me!
In this house we have two vacuum cleaners. They are magical. They do not look like vacuum cleaners and may be found anywhere in the house but are most likely sprawled on the sofa in front of the TV. They leave the whole house, particularly the areas designated to them, a complete mess. Books everywhere, paper on the floor, dust where there shouldn't be any, sticky glue in the most unexpected places and crumbs on the sofa. 
But they clean out the food from the larder and the fridge. Nothing survives their powerful suctioning skills. No matter how far behind the veggies you hide the chocolates or the sweets or the cheese, they have a special homing button that allows them to clear it in a trice! So do not look for left overs of that yummy Chinese we had two nights ago, or the pizza, or the cheesecake, or the ham, not even that home made keema curry.... one fell swoop and whoosh, it's gone!
Oh, you'll be forgiven for looking at my fridge and thinking it's full of cheese, chocolates and ice cream. Those are just the empty boxes. These vacuum cleaners are so good that they suction the food right out of the box or container and leave the box intact until one day, muttering under my breath I have to throw them out! Yeah, you guessed right, these magical machines do have names: Isha and Amisha.
So this morning while packing lunch for Court, I was looking for that little box of sweets where last night I know I had kept some Kaju Barfis for our tiffin. I found it alright, but it was empty. I sighed and packed something else. But then just before she fell asleep on my bed half an hour ago, I sha admitted she had eaten them. "All of them?" I asked, aghast. These things are full of cashews, heavy and rich. "Um," she smiled happily, "it was so tasty, I had all six after you went to bed last night...."

And here I am missing Court, not doing all the work I was supposed to do nursing a sick child with cramps and a runny tummy. 
I rest my case.