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The Middle Class Mom

Does ‘The Great Indian Midddle Class’ still exist? And if it does then how are they divided further into the lower / upper middle class? Oh! How we grew up with the middle class jargon!

As a child I remember having almost everything that a regular child needs in her growing up years. It however helped that way back in our times we didn’t have branded clothes. There was no Lilliput for little adults, United Colors of Benetton for juniors and no Gini & Jony for the little fashionistas! I still remember wearing a handed down Levi’s when I was barely 5. It was of course a phoren ka maal because Levi’s for adults wasn’t available in India of the 1980’s. And that precious piece of denim was further handed down to my cousins and brother. The youngest was born in post-liberalisation India, but even than branded clothes for kids was unthinkable! The one brand that kids had for them was Johnson & Johnson and I remember parents swearing by them.

It came as a shock to me that Johnson & Johnson had a bedtime collection! A night lotion, a cream and powder. A bedtime bath for kids is still an alien concept in India…“Bacchae ko thand lag jayegi!” the admonishing mother / In-law will never allow their grand kids to take a shower at night! So i felt that it was quite an intriguing product to launch in India. The shopkeeper however had a point – “madam! Aajkal bado ke lite night cream hota hai, bachche kyon pichche rahen?” I succumbed to temptation and bought a bedtime lotion for V. I soon realised that V was far from being lulled to sleep. He refused to go to bed every time I lathered him with that lotion.

My son doesn’t care for a Lilliput or a UCB or Gini & Jony. He doesn’t know or care for clothes and shoes bought from abroad. He doesn’t care that I tore up my granny’s old sarees for his nappies when he was born. That for his first winter I bought pants for 15 bucks each from the footpath! He won’t remember or bother that he wore handed down clothes from his elder cousin brother as an infant. He won’t remember that his mom bought ‘unbranded’ but extremely comfortable and smart clothes from the small town that she grew up in! That he was made to suffer the intolerable summer sun to buy a sandal worth Rs 165, or his first summer cap for Rs 90. He doesn’t care now…can’t say how he’d feel as an adolescent though!

As a parent I have to make choices that my parents never had to make. I still remember that one particular dress that my mother bought me from the new AC market in Kolkata and that which I refused to wear after once! I remember being very excited about it when it was bought, but I could never get myself to like it when it languished in my cupboard. I don’t think my mother has forgiven me for that one extravagant purchase. And till date a part of me feels bad for having wasted that money. My parents didn’t have too many ‘brands’ to choose from, they bought me clothes for my birthday and Durga Pujas, and that lasted for almost the entire year. I buy clothes for V at the drop of a hat…he has more clothes than his father now! It’s not that I cannot afford a smart buy, a branded piece or imported shoes for V…I can afford to, but I realise that just because I can I need not indulge in kiddie extravagance. I am doing my best for my son and some day he will have to grow up to learn to be happy with his childhood. I am holding on to the strings of my purse tight and tighter as my son grows older. I need to learn and remind myself to be a frugal mom…a middle class mom.

P.S: I still have my first M&S that my father bought me 15 years back during his first trip to London. A pair of Jodhpurs and a red pull over. I like to say that I’ve maintained myself in these 15 years but the truth is that those are the only pieces from M&S that I own and they are too precious for me to part with. I wonder if V would ever feel that way for any clothes that his father or I will buy in his life…

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Gabbar – Thakur and The Legend of Sholay

Wasn’t it Gabbar who said “…yahan se pachaas meel door jab gaon mein koi bachcha rota hai to uski maa bolti hai, ‘so jaa varna Gabbar aa jayega?”

When Salim-Javed wrote this, they didn’t know that kids will cry even 37 years later…

What started as a little game is now our favourite sport with V. Just as we dare say another very famous line from the same film V pouts with anguish. And our buttercup has our hearts melting. 

V is a child of very few tears, so its a real surprise that he cries every time anyone says this dialogue! I’ve translated the dialogue to English, sung it like a rhyme and a talked like a baby, but every single time he has pouted! 

Once when the film played for the nth time on Zee Cinema, increased the TV volume to an insane level, just when the scene arrived.V was perplexed! Why has his dad suddenly turned deaf? 

I am secretly convinced that he was Thakur in his past life! Poor man, he lost his hands in his past life and here we are after his hands again…I have decided to call nickname him Thakur for now 🙂 

This is a serious infringement of the copyright act…Mr Sippy would be a very angry man. Let’s hope the writers are a little amused and little V when he grows up has his sense of humour in place to pardon me for putting this up! 

This video was taken when V was 6 months old…turns 9 months today!! 

Love you Thakur…Ooops! Son…

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Child is the Father of Man

After I became a mother I realised that this is the one relation in the world that is truly, truly selfless. We didn’t have a child for him to look after us when we grow old. We brought a baby into this world because we wanted someone to share our universe with. We wanted to look beyond our own ambitions and dreams and create a life that is truly magical. Wasn’t it Wordsworth who wrote ‘Child is the Father of Man’? While Wordsworth meant that a child and his perception of his world determines who he grows up to be, I’d also like to believe that a child is the one who turns a man into a father.

V’s dad turned a Dad when he got to know that his wife (me) was pregnant. We had been chasing our careers so hard and fast that we had forgotten that we have a home and we have a life together. In fact I was on tour and in a different city when I discovered that I was pregnant. And so unlike the recent Cadbury ad where the girl rehearses how she’d break the news of her pregnancy to her husband, I did it gingerly on the phone. I wrote about that on my blog too.

9 months down the road and I can only say that I am glad I chose A to spend my life and have a family with. V couldn’t have had a better father and I a better man to bring up a boy with.

This isn’t going to be a mushy lovey-dovey post for A saying how much I love him. I am certain he knows…but this is a very special post for the father from a son who says “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba"

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My worst fears had come true, A couldn’t reach Jamshedpur for the birth of his child. But he made up for it in a very special way, he was the first to hold V in his arms.

This moment at 18:04 hrs on 20th September 2011 was one of his proudest moments. And I knew V was safe.

Father and son got started with their games pretty early. In between marathon feeding and napping sessions there were very few waking hours…and whatever they were the boys communicated with each other.

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I particularly like this one when A was leaving behind his 21 day old son…he said, “Bye Vihaan, I’ll see you soon!”

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There is something about V and his father’s connection. It seems that they know each other from a past life. I have seen other kids with their parents too, but I haven’t seen a child’s face light up in a way that V’s does…I love to watch them together. I love to see them play their games. I love to see A unwind after a long long day by just hearing his son’s laugh.

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In the past two months V has learnt to crawl, to pull himself up and walk when assisted. His first set of teeth have debuted and he is all eager to bite and lick anyone who is near him. He is yapping and singing more. He has learnt to dance and move his feet and hands. He has shown tiny signs of jealousy and  cowardice.  If he wants a certain thing he will throw a fit to have it. But the goodness in his soul soon overcomes his want for that thing when I distract him with something else. He has learnt to fall and cry only if someone watches him. He’ll get up and crawl again if  no one has noticed him take a fall. Pitter-patter, pitter-patter the sound when he crawls is adorable. He has learnt to see ‘doggies’ on the street and anything that walks on four  is understood as doggie! He loves to bang, to scratch, likes litchees, mangoes and biscuits.

A missed two precious months in his son’s life because we were away due to my brother’s accident and post operative care. The father missed some incredible milestones. To think of it in all of 9 months he has been with his son for only 6! He’s seen his son grow up more in pictures, videos and on skype than before his eyes. The first year of a child when the baby grows up at a tremendous rate…I am still rubbing my eyes…and my heart breaks to note that A has missed such a lot.

A is a man of few words. He wouldn’t write a blog and tell his son how he feels about him. He would rather live in the moment and enjoy each day with his son. He may not tell his son how special he feels today and what it means to be a father but let me tell you a few things that I know…

I know A will be a great pal. He’ll be strict but he’ll be an absolute buddy to his son.

He is the more protective one. I am okay with V getting a few bumps here and there. But his father won’t tolerate a teeny-tiny scratch.

A can’t tolerate vaccinations. It’s one thing to be scared of needles, quite another to see his son being poked.

A is the performer in the house. When we have guests I ask him to make his son laugh. No one makes V laugh more than his father.

As a newborn their favourite game was ‘cheeky-nose’, now their favourite game is hiding inside a cupboard.

A likes fish and potatoes. He’d be the happiest to see his son develop a palate for the same foods.

V is a carbon copy of his dad. A as a child and V as he is now look the same. A is thrilled Dad. He tells me…”Sorry Baby, but V will look like me when he grows up!” Smile

A is an indulgent Dad. He wants to buy his son the best clothes, the best toys…the works. But I know when the time comes he would also reign in on his son and teach him to be happy with what he gets. He will pamper him but with his own conditions.

A is meticulous about his hair and he insists V’s hair is combed always!!

A is sad that V would never see Rahul Dravid play in his life. He is yet to get over that grief. Let’s hope the father-son duo have a new sporting icon to share notes on.

A would like his son to be disciplined. For instance if I am working on a computer and V insists on banging the keyboard, A would like V to follow his instructions and ‘learn’ to not bang the keys!!

A has made a promise. A promise to be his son’s guardian angel. A promise to support his son in whatever choice he makes. A promise to respect his son and take his counsel when he grows up.

This blog follows my last year’s very popular blog post that I wrote for my father on Father’s Day. Of all the people who read it I was told that it brought tears to their eyes. I didn’t write it for that effect but really when I re-read it later I realised that my father has had such a tremendous impact on my life that I am no one without him. I haven’t just got my name from him, he has shaped my life in many ways.

My father is my superman. And I always thought that there isn’t a better father than him in the world. He is the father every child should have. Now, I know A will make a better Dad…and there is a part of me that wants him to outdo my father in every way.

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Love you Appa…says V…you are my Superhero…with all superpowers rolled into one!