Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All Too Soon

Time, it flows in strange ways. Sometimes years pass at the blink of an eyelid and at other times, even a week lingers for months. The amazing part is that for the years that pass by too soon, we wish they hadn't and for those that don't we hope they do.

That sunny June morning of Bangalore is etched clearly in my mind. Not because it was a sunny morning -- Bangalore after all, is known for anything but a sunny morning -- but because it was the day the devil was to be tamed. My husband and I had been up early -- a habit that I am glad that we share -- but unlike other days when we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the morning with our respective cups of tea and coffee, we were a little worried. Mishti after all, had to go to school. And knowing the monster of a child that she was -- and still is -- it was only natural for us to be a little nervous.

The good thing of having a disciplined man for a husband is that you can leave all the dirty work on him, in any case Mishti and I never saw eye to eye, and all crucial conversations with her were made by her father, he had taken the crucial task of getting her up and ready upon himself too (Thank God for Bengali men!), something he continues till date. Since she was being handled by her father, she was quite in control and only when we had reached the school and he had left did her discomfort appear.

What followed was a session of bawling and screaming, so hard that the poor children and teachers of the school were left scandalised. Not only that, the anti social girl of mine, had refused to talk to, or sit with the other children. In the end, I was asked by the principal to shift her to the afternoon slot. "There are fewer children at that time, and we will be able to pay more attention to Lavanya" she had said. I got the point.

The next few weeks were perhaps the toughest. I had quit work only a few weeks before and was expecting to live a leisurely life of a housewife; what I had forgotten was that the leisure entailed living with a monster of a child. She would howl and shout until she turned red and her throat parched; the soft spoken, shy and reticent women of Bangalore were not able to handle her tantrums and would almost be in tears by the time I went back to pick her; I could only empathise and apologise. But their submissiveness and patience paid rich dividends -- Mishti eventually fell in line. And today, she went to class two. The reason why I am reminded of that day however, is not because she has grown up -- I am glad that she has, it has made her a little civilised -- but because today Pakhi went to school for the first time.

"Do you expect her to be as difficult as her sister?", their father had asked me as we got into the car this morning. "Not half as much!" I had replied. The two sisters are poles apart, and today I was confident that things will be smoother -- and they were. As soon as we reached the school, the girl happily went in with the teacher, not even bothering to look back and I was told to come back in an hour, but I decided to stay -- just in case. I had company -- another lady from my apartment block was there with her daughter.

There were more parents waiting: some eager to see their children on the screen, urging the staff every now and then to get the CCTV turned on, the others discussing weather their child ate 'onion' or not, or if he 'vomited' while crying. Then there were those who would, at every given opportunity check on the welfare of their child, "Is my child all right?", as if the child was not in a classroom but in a hospital ward. Yet others seemed more worried about the bag and water bottle than their child, they reminded the attendant to take care of the 'belongings', every two mins. Thankfully, the lady with me was as amused at the entire thing as I was. Perhaps because ours were the only children who seemed to be enjoying themselves. The kids soon started to come out: some crying, some howling and some too dazed to react. In time, our girls came out too -- the last ones to do so -- smiling, not only that, they did not want to leave school at all. It took us all our might to pull them out of the gate.

As I walked back, I was reminded of the afternoon four years ago, when I had walked back with Mishti, after her first day at school. I suddenly felt old. Four years had passed too soon.

 Meanwhile, as I fuss over the four years passing by too quickly, my parents are presently in Amritsar -- the city where they began their journey from -- and I am sure they are also thinking the same: these forty years have passed all too soon.