Wall Written

For the first time in her life, she holds a pen. Much like a hammer. No wait. Much like a sledgehammer. She wields it on a hapless piece of paper with two fists. Reminding of Monica Seles dispatching a sullen tennis ball across the forecourt with a solemn goodbye grunt.

Wall Written

Today, there are scrawls. Random shaky lines. Like a country’s borders on a map. You can’t definitively say why at a particular point the line curved in or looped out. It’s just the way it is. Of course, countries vie with each other to lob bombs to kill, maim and loot, if that random line on a piece of paper is thought to have been altered. But in a child’s world every passing moment is interwoven with wonder and joy. So, let’s stay right there.

Shrieks of joy have out shouted loud ‘outrage’ spouting news from the next door’s television sets, upon discovering that she could leave her mark on random pieces of paper. Little does she realise that the insurance papers of the car is not any other random paper. But that is a different story that will be told another day.

This is a big momentous and joyous day in our lives. The day that she left her first impressions on paper. Just as we prepare for a lunch with a good friend. Family lunch and all that.

‘She wrote today. She actually wrote’. I say at the lunch table.

To anybody else who overhears that part of the conversation, I could well have been speaking of writing the Civil Services Exam. Such is the excitement in my voice. I proudly present her random scrawls of silly lines with an unsteady hand.

I clearly am expecting praise. Maybe even some ‘wonderful’ would do. My friend, after all the excitement asks, ‘which hand did she use?’

‘Oh’ I say. Sputtering. The cauliflower caught between the tongue and the throat. Choking and coughing. I didn’t expect that.

I think for a minute. ‘I mean… both hands’. I say. My friend furrows her brow.

‘Does that disqualify her.. From say, the Math Olympiad’ I ask. There is laughter. I am mildly cheesed off. She knows it. Everybody at the lunch table knows this. But they are all bonding like the Australian cricket team and working with precision on pulling my leg. There is some silence. The conversation drifts.

But veers right back.

‘What did she write?’

‘Two paragraphs from Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls’. I reply calmly. There is silence. And then some generous laughter. ‘You are an incorrigible riot. Listen, May she do very well. May she do very well old boy’, she says.

I reach out to smoke my peace pipe. But she interrupts.

‘May she write better’ she says. This is classical bait for a battle. And I fall for it.

‘Better?’ I ask. For your information, several lunches have been gobbled with ferocity reminiscent of wild cats, with my writing as the subject of the discussions.

‘Oh write better, you know. Better than maybe painting or playing tennis’ she says with a mischief coated twinkle in her eyes. ‘Yes, and hopefully write better than Ernest Hemingway too’.

The daughter, oblivious to all of this, is busy drawing vague lines on yesterday’s newspaper, while simultaneously trying to overturn the potted plant. And at that moment it strikes me that another faculty in the daughter is beginning to function. Dexterity with hands and fingers is indeed a new phase.

Soon, we are at dessert.

‘This is nothing’. My friend says, pointing to the piece of paper that I have preserved as a showpiece. Perhaps to be framed.

‘What do you mean ‘nothing’ ’ I ask. What I don’t say is this: ‘What-do-you-mean-you-Type A- MBA – High-achiever’?

She digs further into her payasam and answers, ‘this is nothing until such works of art get on to the wall’. I gulp my full bowl down imagining dropping dead after scrubbing the walls of the living room. I silently wonder if practicing of her ambidextrous new wares would get us new ‘art’ on the wall. My friend reads my mind well.

And says, ‘Don’t even think about it. This is a guarantee. The real writing is on the wall my friend’. I look at her. She has walked this road before. And she has made it too.

‘Well, I look forward to it’, I say! ‘Of course you do. Of course you do’ she says.

Sometime later we are saying our goodbyes. One eye has been trained on the daughter all the while. One potted plant has been overturned and Manmohan Singh’s photograph in the newspaper has got a ‘deeper shade of green’ treatment.

I lift her and mildly admonishingly say, ‘show me your hands’. She lets go of the cutest smile that proud daddies believe is only possible by their own children. And then, in a seamless flow of motion, shows her palms to everybody around. Today they carry streaks of green and grime. We all laugh. She clasps my hands and emits a strange assortment of vowels. And then, pulls out the pen from my pocket.

Colored Palms of a Kid

I realise. There is no escaping. The writing on the wall is coming soon to our walls. Which I am sure will be markedly better than what I can muster on numerous Facebook walls!

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.

  • Making a wall hanging or a desk top calender is actually a good idea…from the Kiddos’ drawings/writings etc… Soon you will be helping her on her school projects so better brush up your drawings also 🙂

    • Man man! Dont even go till school projects and brushing up on my drawings. All I can remember from drawings would be to make a fat cat by drawing two circles. One large and one small !! And add a wriggle of a line as a tail!

      But the desktop calendar idea is a pretty neat one. Very neat infact. Will put that to use! Thanks a ton!! 🙂

  • Superbly written, Kavi. By the way, pay no heed to the detractors. Perhaps they do not have budding writers of their own. My son has been scribbling on paper and on the walls for some days now. Any paper was grist to his mill. All the walls were his canvas. I was one proud mama. Today I returned home from work to find that he had graduated. From writing on paper and scrawling on the walls, he has started writing on the furniture. With indelible ink, no less. Note to self: keep all stationary hidden. May God give all parents pride in their offspring and patience in equal measure.

    • Indelible Ink!!! Oh my God! I mean, new boundaries are set in my mind. Thank you for sounding me out Cynthia!

      True to my friend, she was not a detractor. They wish me well (& they read Parentous too) but they were having fun. 🙂

      Our lives are so interspersed and the in-thing perhaps is the writing on the wall !! Thanks a ton for the support and the generous comments. As always.

  • Evocative post as always! Brought back fond memories of the conundrum of parenting. Give the kid a long rope and let what’s best for her emerge? Or think rationally, guide, direct and hope that what will emerge will be best for all. 🙂

    • Thanks for that! Evocative. Hmm ! Chuffs me up. 🙂

      With my limited experience in the parenting domain, I am increasingly coming to a conclusion that ‘think rationally’ with logic and all that is pretty out of the window. Staying with the flow is what counts I guess. ( You might turn around and ask, was it ever there to go out of the window now. But thats a different question 😉 )

  • Some folks
    just write and write
    and fill sheets
    with what someone else
    as something acceptable.

    Some folks
    simply shriek and shriek,
    till the words
    and give up

    But what they don’t teach you
    in business school,
    is the art
    of writing a shriek,
    as you burst forth
    in streaking
    and pointed color
    on what you think
    is a monotonous
    black and white,
    with whatever
    you can find.

    It could be
    your pen,
    a truant crayon,
    a kajal pencil,
    or some amorphous wet mud
    waiting to
    be babystamped
    on the powers that be.

    When was the last time,
    you wrote a shriek,
    the PM smiled
    through the paper
    and said
    “Theek hai , princess!”

    • Whatay poem! I wonder how you are able to come up with such gems to such average prose! I have read it many times over and have even pointed friends to the poem.

      This is phenomenal ! Thanks again.

      Even though I must confide, I tried telling her “Theek Hai” to her in the MMS style. She gave me one tight slap! I mean, seriously! 😉

  • Lol! I love reading you! Fantastic article. Wall art is something to cherish now and whitewash when they are 5! 😀

    • Thank you Sirisha ! Thank you!

      Thats not a bad idea. But if everybody is going to think like that, how will paint companies make their money?!!? 😉

      On a more serious note, lovely interacting with you here. 🙂

  • Nidhi

    Lovely..what are walls in front of our little artists? One thing that I’d done was paint an entire wall in Kidlet’s room with chalkboard paint – and she was allowed to write on it with whatever she wanted – not just chalk. This – after a ballpoint pen was used on a LED TV – yes, that can happen too 😉

    • Nidhi!!

      OMG !! The boundary just got altered there. Ballpoint pen on a LED TV !?! OMG really! But thats is a good idea. There are special paints for that as well. 🙂

      And I wonder, do they stick to the boundary after the boundary has been drawn!?! I doubt! Nevertheless will attempt and keep you posted! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment and the education !

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Fab Article ! Enjoyed every bit of it.

    • Thank you Amrita ! 🙂

  • hahaha!!! loved it!! Just hold back the painting of the walls till she outgrows the drawing. Infact, I remember hubby dearest offering ‘tours’ around the house to showcase the ‘wall paintings’ by the kiddos. 🙂

    • Hello Meena!

      A house tour! Whoa! Thats some best practice too. I can really think of working on that! 🙂 What an innovative man you have as hubby dearest. This is awesome.

      Thank you for you leaving a comment. I am loving it all ! 🙂


  • Oh Kavi,

    That was so well written and so nicely narrated. Took me back to my son’s toddler’s days. Not that many years ago but still, I do remember the same excitement that you and your wife must be feeling. Three Cheers to Your Daughter and to You all as One Happily Bonding Family….

    • Thank you Shail ! I am super impressed with myself that this post took you back in time and got you to recollect that excitement and all of that.

      Thank you for all the good wishes and generous comments. It keeps me going ! 🙂

  • Loved the post… Wish to write and splash on the walls of my house than on my FB wall…

    • Thank you Manjulika ! I guess all of us can give wings to our wishes ! 🙂 Especially so if we have toddlers at home !

      Thank you again!

  • as always you have a way with words and so loved this endearing post too. I have preserved the scribbles of my children done on calender backs and my teens love to see them now and run their hands on those sheets to feel their scribbles.

    The designer ( written) walls in your home will add more warmth to your home. Wall written….err…well written.

    • Hello Asha !

      Thank you indeed. Life is good to hear of such comments and instances on how endearing it can get. For now and the future. I am getting an education on preserving it for posterity too. This is super!

      Thank you! The designer walls will have such cool advice inherent in them!!


  • I wait for your posts and they are always worth it. I can relate to you very well. I kept the ‘first writing’ of my now 16 month old. Even took a pic in case I misplace it in one of my moves. I remember one of my friends kept a wall dedicated to her kid’s writing until he was 4.
    Looking forward to read more about the lil princess. Lots love!

    • Hello Priyanka !

      Whoa! That comment took me to the stars. I am so glad to share my story and that it resonates many miles away, under another roof where a similar story plays. The beauty of it all is so mystically impressive!

      Comments like this keep me going and wanting to share more and make our parenting journey enjoyable and incessantly joyous. A billion thanks!

  • Loved reading a proud father’s story! 🙂

    • Thank you Shilpa !! 🙂

  • He he.. 🙂 Loved the daddy’s outlook. Walls of my house are proof of some really ‘abstract’ graffiti by my toddler and not only all sort of paper but even the fabric of sofa portrays her drawings all over them 🙂

    • Fabric of the sofa ! Changes the rubric of growth !! Awesome!! Thank you ! 🙂