The Solar System, Some Dinosaurs and a Birthday

Conversation was flourishing yet again at the breakfast table. The clock ticked on unmindful of the parodies and paradoxes being played out at the very moment. There was time – 6 minutes and 23 seconds before the big horn was blown and all children boarded the car and raced towards their scholarly duties. This time in the morning is the most fraught with tension, melodrama and hilarity. For instance, one time the daughter sighed an identifiably 10-year-old tenet that Monday mornings were tough with P.E, gym and all classes packed into the day. It must be particularly hard for her, for she knows how to take relaxing-over-the-weekend to ridiculous extremes.

“Don’t worry .. you can sleep soon in the afternoon.” said the wise toddler opening his mouth way bigger than it needs to be opened for 3 pieces of cereal to be spooned in. The cereal made it in, but the milk did not. The wisdom-dripping sister sighed and passed the milk dripper a napkin.

“I don’t have nap time in my school unlike yours. Amma – he thinks I have time to sleep in school!”  said the affronted sister.

“ is he to know that? His school has nap-time. You go to school, therefore it must have nap-time.” I said.

“Yeah – Pre-school. They don’t even agree to call it school yet. Pre-school! He has 3 breaks, 1 nap, 2 play sessions and 4 go-to-the-loo’s in his time-table.”

Say what you will about the toddler, he rallies. His brief confusion about how there can be schools and universities without nap-time occupied his mind for a few seconds and he said, “Oh! That’s okay – when you become small like me again, then you can sleep in school.”

3 minutes and 40 seconds.

Another howl from the older sister. “I don’t grow small again, I become bigger.”

“Yes, but I will also become 5 years old.” says the brother.

“That doesn’t even make any sense!” she says to me again. I nod.

Say what you will about ambition and planning, the toddler has it right. When asked what he would like to become when he grows up, he says, “I want to be 5.” At  10, his sister must seem like a wise-rishi to him. When she tells him about flip bars ( and running 9 rounds during P.E, his mind boggles. The magic of her age, size and tenacity seem formidable. He cannot even aspire to such greatness, and he settles for being 5 and becoming a fire-fighter like his favorite cartoon character.

These age-related discussions always have her puzzled. She has tried explaining the concept of time, solar system, evolution of dinosaurs and mankind to him (subject to another blog, for it was fraught with theories bound to make philosophers and scientists squirm in their seats and graves).

One time he told her that when he was small, she was in my tummy. “How is that even possible? I am older than you, lil broke-head.” she says tussling his hair and he replies. “Yes I know. But when you were small and then smaller, you were in amma’s tummy.”

“Yes, but you weren’t even there.”

“Yes I was.”

“NO! You weren’t. “

“Yes I was. You was in Amma’s tummy rember?”

“I remember.” (Maybe she is a rishi after all, could Rishis remember the time in their mother’s womb? I must check)

“Yes…then I was a small boy.”

“You are a small boy now. You weren’t even there when I was in amma’s tummy.”

“Then where was I?” he asks in confusion. He looks at me for answers. I am flummoxed.  I suppose I look like a dinosaur to him and have lived eons in comparison,  but how was I to answer the #1 existential question that has wracked mankind for centuries?

Earth goes around the Sun Dinosaurs roam the Earth The Clock is Ticking
Earth goes around the Sun
Dinosaurs roam the Earth
The Clock is Ticking

Luckily, it is time to herd everybody into the car and I welcome the confusion.

To make matters worse, his birthday rolls around in May, while the rest of us have it in the fall. School (Fine – pre-school) starts in the Fall, and so he patiently waited while all his friends had birthdays. “When will my birthday come?” became a common question mixed with the notion that birthdays mean he will get older, his sister younger and my tummy flatter. (Well, alright alright.)

Unable to bear it any longer, I told him that it takes a full year for the Earth to go around the Sun, and when that happens, his birthday will come. Patiently, for months, he waited and spoke about his birthday every time he saw a picture of the Solar System.

Well, the Earth made it around the Sun and the son’s birthday is finally here. Happy Birthday little Tucky! (

Divine Intervention of the Gardening Gods

If there is a Gardening God, I am curious to see where he would grade me on various aspects of his or her domain. I think he would view me like a benevolent, brilliant professor regards his loyal, funny but idiot pupil. ‘See thee down there’, he shall boom to his godlings, ‘there goeth the very example of exemplary gardening intent. If ever you want to know how to admire a fallen leaf, thou can gaze down at her. She and her progeny are always bending or squatting and looking at something marvelous. Sometimes, when I am bored, I send out the snails to see the enthusiasm thee here summoneth up. But send her  lobelia, geraniums, petunia, primroses and violets together, and she will still, after all those years, not be able to tell you the difference.

If you pusheth me, I may give her a pass with the planning, but will send to Earthly Exile the next godling who suggests she gardens well. “ This is where he shakes his head and the clouds above spatter a few drops of rain on the Earth below, and the parched trees in my backyard gulp and send thanks to the Gods above, for I forgot to water them for a few days.

Why, you ask, do you assume that a Gardening God talks like someone escaped out of a badly written 17th century book? I don’t know – in my mind, this gardening god looks like a gnome with a long flowing beard, a brown hat that looks like an upturned nest, a booming voice and language like he was happy to not be written into one of Shakespeare’s books.

Anyway, back to the point of our garden. Very near our backyard is a marvelous tree. Home to thousands of leaves, hundreds of twigs and branches, and scores of birds and squirrels, this tree offers shade and respite to a person who wishes for a few quiet moments. But every time the tree so much as shivers or flutters in the breeze, it sends ten thousand leaves straight to the narrow strip of garden in my backyard.

This is where the ex. intent plays its trump card:  I declare, rather grandly for one who has failed at this task for almost a decade, that I shall gather up the leaves and have a clean backyard. I say this vehemently for a week or so, as though the sheer force behind the voice will collect, bag and compost the leaves.  When that plan fails, I wait to see if anyone in the house will be gallant enough to say, “No, no. You rest. I shall shovel and clean the backyard.” But of course, everybody in the house is too wise for that.  This is when I start shamelessly sighing and dropping “hints”.

Ahh! I wish I can do those leaves, but these allergies of mine, they just don’t let up you know. AAAACCHOOO!

Nothing. A brief silence and then I hear the jarring song to which the husband and children are dancing rise in volume by a few decibels. This goes on for another few weeks, by which time the sycamore tree’s leaves have figured out that the best place to fall is our backyard because they don’t have to flutter on to hard earth anymore and can simply cushion their fall on their already fallen brethren.

Next up: I try the guilt-tripping with the make-it-a-jolly-family-activity technique.

Rake, rake rake your way merrily through the leaves. I sing as I rake. (The Lyrical God joins the Gardening one above and they observe the specimen below to see where they went wrong with this model)

I manage to pile up the leaves with my enthusiastic, but equally unskilled helpers, the children, when the sneezing starts. But of course, I don’t stop and soldier on.  The husband is tactfully finding himself outside tasks to do – service the car, go to the bank, grocery shopping, clean the rooftop. Anything at all but gardening.

The Incompetent Gardeners
The Incompetent Gardeners

At the end of it all, the day is ripe and getting on. There is a huge pile of leaves, weeds tumbling over one another all over the backyard waiting to be removed, no lunch, three cups of tea and sneezing enough to rattle a herd of elephants. Meanwhile, the wind hears about the gardening action in our backyard and comes a-howling. The leaves spatter yet again and I curse using some very imaginative phrases, making the toddler look up in alarm and say, “Stupid is a bad word!”

By this time of course, everybody is fed up with me and will gladly let me dangle like a wind-chime on the apricot tree. Enough, I say to myself and make a call to the kind soul who helps out every once in a while. This narrow strip of garden  is home to some trees, a jasmine creeper and some flower bushes. The gardener makes it generally known that he is doing it solely because he views it as acquiring some good karma: Help thy helpless, share thy green thumb or some such.

He comes with his pal in his pickup truck, and I kid you not: the pair of them clean up, de-weed, plant new flowers, prune the roses and hose down the garden leaving the patch looking beautiful and well-nourished in about an hour.

I think it is divine intervention: for how long can even the most tolerant Gardening God behold our garden’s plight?

Guess What? Flip!

So it was a normal, every day kind of day,when my daughter strutted proudly into the kitchen. She had a confident look. The look someone might have when they are bursting to say something. ​She exclaimed, “I want to go to my school today.” I choked on a biscuit and said,” Excuse me, if you haven’t noticed it’s a weekend and you said you would help me clean the garden!” The daughter whined in response,”Forget about that, I want to show you the flips I learned!” I tried not to appear as frightened as I was about seeing those flips. I was sure I would have to keep the hospital on speed dial, for me, not my daughter! But, the job description of a mom is to not to discourage the child. My son bounced up and down saying he wanted to do a “tummy flip” and “dead man “(these are names of some flips the daughter does). Finally, I tried to bring the son to reality, that he could not do a single flip. So, he started singing a song about flipping. At that point, the hospital was going to have two emergencies. We got down at the school. My daughter rushed to the 5th and 6th grade area. I had no idea where it was, but the son had run off with my daughter. I was lost for what seemed like an hour when a voice yelled, “Amma watch what I can do.”

I followed the voice to the playground and ran quickly when I saw my son trying to climb on the bar. My daughter yelled at me from the highest bar,” Amma, look at me!” I saw her just in time to see the “easiest” flip. One foot was in front of the other and she fell forward.  I ran under her to catch her like a brave mom fighting off snakes. But, it turned out that she was back up on the bar. She topped this off with Back Cherries, Tummy Flips, Dead Mans, Front Cherries, Roly Polies , and more – all of which gave me heart attacks, but nothing compared to the scariest of all( or at least in my opinion), the Fall Back. The daughter took her hands of the bar put them high in the air and without warning fell back!

The Back Cherry or Cherry Flip or Roly Poly
The Back Cherry or Cherry Flip or Roly Poly or Fall Back

I almost called the hospital when I found her hanging from the bar, her arms dangling near the floor!

Readers, for the final surprise, it was not the normal author of the blog, but me, the daughter, writing from the mothers point of view! I hope this was a surprising blog! Bye!

P.S: When the daughter said she will write a blog for me, I did not realize that she will write this in my voice. I can’t deny that I am proud I write like an elementary school kid. 

Happy Mother’s Day

It has been ten beautiful years since my first Mother’s Day as a mother. I remember playing with  my first born and finding newer and newer methods to get her to kiss me. My peek-a-boos were becoming more grandiose. Once I twisted myself into a knot trying to get my head in between the sofa and the chair for a new angle at the peek-a-boo. Maybe, the knot never straightened itself, but it got me a bigger kiss than before. Flush with the kiss from my baby, I resolved to do what I liked to do best. Jot down all the nice things as our lives progress. I used to write things to myself in a diary that is long eaten by moths. Then I resorted to sending emails to myself. You know? So, I would not forget when the time comes. But everybody knows how that goes. First of all, the emails became shorter and shorter, terse even. Second, they started resembling notes taken in short hand. I mean what does “Kunjulie smiled 2 door.” mean? If it had not been typed, I am not sure I would know what I had scribbled. No. Things needed to change. Most important of all, I knew heart of hearts that I was not going to sit and plod through thousands of emails to find the note I had raced through.

Like the time that she first looked like a mountaineer. I can still see it fresh in my mind. She saw the peak rising before her . She knew she needed more than grit and willpower. She surveyed the mountain from multiple angles, making mental notes as to the best path available. She looked not only at the peak, but the best path to get herself up there. She also needed ropes hanging from cliffs to pull herself up on when she encountered tough and steep slopes. It was easy to see her mind gears squeezing together as she saw the rope, now all that was left was to scramble up. The rope was a thin one, but it would have to do. When one scales mountains and overcomes obstacles, they don’t stop to see whether the ropes are replaceable. They should but they don’t.

Mountain Goat: Source
Mountain Goat: Source

In many ways, she had to function like a mountain goat, but with the advantage of opposable thumbs, and the disadvantage of no horns.

There probably is a photograph of her somewhere looking proud and happy with herself at the first summit.  (I can’t find it. ) She had scaled the heights of her grandfather’s tummy to plant a wet kiss on his cheek. The rope did not bear the assault very well. That was also why we were seen scrambling to find the spare hearing-aid cords. Just before the hearing-aid cord gave way, she managed to hold on to his spectacle frame and hoisted herself atop the peak.

Mountain climbing
Mountain climbing

In the ten years since, I have to say, my family and friends have been remarkable subjects of my blogs. They have shared many moments of hilarity and borne the references to themselves on the blog with grace and charm.  I have grown to love writing about varied topics though family and friends play a good part of my writing, and the daughter has not become a real mountaineer.

May 2015 marks ten years since I started writing the blog. I blogged at various different places:

Slowly, the blogs where I co-blogged at trickled out. So, I went on at about a blog post a week on this blog. I love how writing has shaped my thought processes. When I am stranded, when in difficult times, I cling onto the high and funny spots in the experience. I must say it makes the experience the better for it, and the blogs are funnier for the mindset.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you incredible Mothers out there!

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