“D-O-N-T”. The missus hollers.
As the neighbourhood aunty pushes the daughter on the swing. I watch from afar. I can hear freckle shaped sweat beads tear off the missus’s forehead and disappear. Out of sheer fright.
Picture the scene. The daughter is on the swing. The missus is at a close distance. Running back and forth along with the swing on which the daughter is on. Every step taken in reckless haste with eyes firmly fixed on the daughter’s tender hands holding the chains of the swing. The neighbourhood aunty is pushing the swing all the way up much to the discomfort of the missus.
The faint quiver in her voice tells all. I mean, I can tell. I have been married long enough to notice the faint quiver in her voice and know that it is a sign of fear and that is a slight variation from the quiver free hoot of anger that it could be mistaken for! Marriage, I tell you, teaches you things that an Ivy League education can barely manage to scratch the surface.
Oh, and by the way, add this to the picture to your imagination: I sit in a mound that is at a further distance away from all that’s happening. I have been told to keep away and “fiddle with my camera”. Apparently, I don’t “understand the risks that the daughter will face when on the swing”, amongst other things and that I am “usually very playful that she could get hurt”. So thinks the missus. I seethed with anger first. But again, marriage tempers everything. I swore. I trampled. Jumped about. And since then, I have been fiddling with the camera.
And now watching with glee, as the neighbourhood aunty pushes the daughter fast, up and away into the air. Something that I myself might have done very slowly. The daughter is screaming away to glory. Screams of delight, I can tell. The missus beyond a point, isn’t able to keep up with the swing, has almost closed her eyes with her palms.
I click away with. Like paparazzi that catches Pranab Mukherjhee stuffing a mouthful of Pizza into his mouth at the local discotheque.
I must pause to give you a brief about this neighbourhood aunty. I call her aunty. She is a grandmother. With a spectacular zest for life, living and spreading of joy. I have always looked at her from afar. She is someone who could set the playground afire with the sheer energy and noise. Always positive and a great proponent of kids in the play area experiencing different facets of life. Like falling, getting up, running, fighting. The whole list. I have been told that she has a military background and lost her son in a war. That is unconfirmed information that I usually choose to ignore.
I have a feeling that she chooses out parents who hover over their kids and rush with a paraphernalia of pain balm, anti-septic creams and heap of other things that can put a local physio to shame, the moment the kid has a small scratch on his knee. Or elbow. And then she’d go after those kids with gusto. Some kids would take to it and other kids would cringe. All parents would uniformly cringe, but mostly give into her well meaning ways. At least for the first time.
She would lace her antics with jibes and jokes. Overall good fun to be with.
She has had no opportunity to play with our daughter thus far. Unfortunately (or fortunately) today, I have been asked to sit on the sidelines and ‘fiddle with the camera’ [which ladies and gentleman, is perhaps the unkindest cut of all]. And so Aunty has taken charge. The daughter oozes smiles, laughter and noise.
I can hear her hollering. “Let her be”. “She loves it”. “Stay out of the way”. Obviously all of these are directed at the missus. The daughter herself is hanging on to the swing and experiencing a new whoosh of fresh air. With every push aunty is giving her.
After a full ten minutes of this, the neighbourhood Aunty is tired. And they stop.
It’s been an eventful evening. For both the daughter and the missus. The daughter walks upto me with delight and the missus doesn’t look into my eye. Marriage as usual teaches you, that even if you win, only an ass declares victory.
Aunty meets me and looks at me in the eye and says, ‘You have a fine family young man. Play with them. Don’t sit on your lofty perch’ she says. With a twinkle in her eye.
‘Of course Aunty’. I say. (It’s been sometime someone called me a ‘Young Man’).
The aunty topic surfaces at the dinner table though.
‘She is some lady isn’t she’? The missus asks. Marriage teaches you that when the spouse is reflecting, you let her. So, I zip my mouth shut and listen. As the missus keeps mulling over.
Silence perforates the dinner air.
In that silence nestles the missus’s dilemmas: “How do we bring the daughter up? What risks can we take? Won’t she get hurt? Will she not be in pain? Isn’t there a easier, more safer route to growing up?”
Truth be told, those questions run through my head as well. Sometimes they keep me up at night. But then realisation, that making growing up ‘easy’ takes the fun out of the growing up, come rather quickly. You don’t take the meat out of the burger and just serve the buns because that way, the teeth can have it easy!
And as the food sinks in, I realise that these thoughts are lifetime companions. I will never know what is THE BEST method for bringing her up. Or if there is one universal method. You just take one step at time and keep moving.
That evening I spot this on the web. Why I am the perfect mother. And read it many times over and promptly forward it to the missus. I recommend you catch the time to read it as well.
There is the Jain proverb you know, which goes like this: When the student is ready the master will appear. The Jain philosophers got that right. Today they came swinging by nicely.
Kavi dabbles in writing, reading, traveling, photography, long distance running amongst other things. He and Shanti have their hands full with their adorable toddler, Kayal. In-between all of this, he gives an arm, leg and everything else to earn a living. Usually accomplished by punching keys, attending meetings and trying to sound profound. He blogs at http://kavismusings.blogspot.com & tweets @kavismusings. Just in case you are intrigued enough to know more about him please head to http://about.me/kaviarasu.