Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Roseeecozy for Roseee

So where do stray cats take refuge when nights turn cold and dark? Darkness, of course, they can manage, but cold?

Though Roseee, like me, is fond of taking long walks during cold, foggy nights, she craves a cozy corner for her nightly catnaps. We know for sure by the way she starts knocking our doors and windows at night. She wants to come in and cuddle up, but she wants her independence too…a room of her own.

“So what do we do?” the Lilliputians ask.

I assume the mantle of a sage. “We can build her a home.”

The suggestion ushers in ripples of excitement that reverberate through the entire Land of Lilliputians. Omar, the master builder, has, as always, ideas aplenty. He immediately starts sifting his brain. “We can use a big box to make a house.”

The idea seems plausible and we set to work.

“What will we call the house?” I am still in my thinking Buddha mode.

We all start brainstorming.  Zainab, an extremely organized little girl that she is, brings a copy and starts jotting down the names we all come up with.

Finally we settle on ‘Roseeecozy.’ Since it is ‘tea cozy’ for keeping tea warm, Roseee cozy will keep ‘our’ cat cozy, so goes the logic.

I like the fact that we have somehow brought in tea in this roseeecozy business.

We make a house. To make Roseee feel special, the Lilliputians embellish the house with her portraits. There is even a little red foot mat in case she becomes too cultured and starts wearing shoes. The house is then furnished with a wall- to-wall carpet, a few cushions are thrown in to make it snug for her snooze.

“She might like it enough to start living here. Then she will become ‘our’ cat and will never ever leave us,” they say wistfully.

The insatiable human urge to possess, to make someone, or something, ours...but can this ever be so…

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Roseee Goes to Vet

Roseee, a stray cat that she is, likes to go for long walks all on her own; she doesn’t hang about our place for long. But one day Roseee stays at our place, eat nothing, and sleeps.  If it had only been her marathon sleeping session, we wouldn’t have been worried. But she coughs a real couch, not once, not twice, but three times. 

Zainab tells me: “Roseee caught it from you.”


Yes, I was down with a protracted flu &fever, so bad that it made my jaws ache as if they were being hammered upon. I think about Roseee’s jaws and announce: “I will have to find a vet for her.”   

Inappropriate medium for transporting cats
There are screams of excitement and they all want to go with me. This uncalled for enthusiastic response to Roseee’s illness feels ominous and I start dreading the trip. “I didn’t say picnic, I said vet.”

There’s a chorus. “You can’t go without us.”

I am good at recognizing commands that just can’t be defied. So we pick Roseee’s basket, it is also her makeshift bed, and set out on the journey. Only the basket in question is NOT meant to hold cats but the realization will dawn on me much later.

We settle in the car, Zainab sits in the front seat with Roseee, Saif extends his hand from the back seat to help Zainab in calming down the cat. While I drive, Roseee takes offence and tries to jump outside. Saif Screams, Zainab shrieks and asks me to control Roseee. I  try to keep my cool, concentrate on driving and  tell zianab that I have two eyes and they should preferably be on the road, and it would be better if my hands held on to the steering instead of Roseee.

After a while, an object comes flying from the back seat and hangs upside down on the front seat. This is Omar. He too wants to hold Roseee.

Now I raise my voice and tell him to behave and threaten to drop him on the road if he doesn’t.

He moves back and makes a few statements that in effect pronounce me the meanest person in town.

I make a silent vow: I will never ever stuff the Lilliputians and Roseee together in anything that moves on the road, and has me at the steering.

Roseee and her vet
After what seems like twenty years we reach the market where we have been told there are vet clinics. Now everyone wants to hold the basket. So this is how we move around the market: six people moving in a circle, holding a basket with a harassed looking cat inside it. We are a spectacle.

I reiterate my vow.

As we reach the clinic, the cat starts jumping around and we all run in that small cubicle to catch her.  The vet doesn’t seem too pleased to see us. However, Roseee is then put on a stretcher, he takes her temperature, injects her with some antibiotics.

 Roseee looks at me, and for the second time in a day I am made to feel like the meanest person in town. Not good for my morale. Really.

And then it happens.

Saif nudges me: “The uncle behind us has a cat in a box.”

I turn around. Yes, the uncle in question has a beautiful Persian cat that has come to have his nails clipped.

The handsome Persian dude
We all start petting the cat who is fashionable enough to come for a manicure. As we are doing so, Roseee jumps and attacks the well-groomed feline dude. There is a commotion. The uncle is worried, the vet tells us to quickly control our ‘stray cat,’ and we try to leave.

The entire spectacle of six people holding a basket with a, now angry, cat is repeated.

“Roseee was jealous because we were petting the Persian cat,” on our way home, Roshan comes up with a likely reason for Roseee’s bad behavior.

Since Mobby always has an opinion on everything, the next possible reason comes from him. “The Persian cat was big, Roseee was scared of him and wanted to attack first while the doctor held him.”

 “No, actually Roseee wasn’t trying to pounce on the Persian cat. She wanted to scratch the doctor for giving her the injection. He gave her two injections, it must have hurt her,” Omar has another take on the matter.

Zainab finds Roshan’s reason more plausible, and Saif seconds Omar, or perhaps Mobby. While the Lilliputians shout, voice opinions and fight over who is right, Roseee again tries to jump out, Zainab again shrieks, I try to somehow drive.

 And I renew my vow for the third time.

We finally reach home safe and sound. We give some warm milk to Roseee, tuck her in her make shift bed, and tell her to rest. When after half an hour we check on her…..she is gone.  

The Lilliputians are dejected. “After all that we did for her!” is the prevailing emotion.

I tell them that our love, our entreaties, our ministrations, our pampering cannot chain her. She is a free soul.

Roseee  is generous in her acceptance of our love. She doesn’t take it as a loan that she has to pay back with or without interest. Nor does she ascribe motives and designs to our ministrations. She takes it nonchalantly like she receives the breeze that caresses her, or the sunshine that makes the terrace such a cozy place for her. 

In response to our love she does what she is good at doing: she basks in it, and she purrs. 



Friday, 1 November 2013

Apple’s School


Saif is teary-eyed and has an injured look on his face.


“Aymen has fired me and she didn’t even give me my pay,” Saif tells me when I ask the reason.

“Appple hired you, and then fired you! And she pays you too…to do what?” I am confused and curious.

“Aymen, your Apple, runs a school. It’s called Kids Club. Maheen, Zainab and I teach there, and she pays us 30 rupees per day.”

“There seem to be too many teachers. Are there any students?” I ask.

“Omar, Roshan, and Mohib are the students.”

I learn more about the school. It becomes operational every time Apple comes to Lahore, three to four times a year. Classes are held for two days or even one day depending on how long the ‘principal’ is staying here. The duration of her absence is considered holidays, and the students are required to revise and practice whatever they learn during rigorous school sessions. There are three students and almost four teachers because sometimes Apple likes to take a class or two. Two of the teachers are sixth graders, one is in grade four, and the principal is in grade three.

It seems an interesting institution.  I decide to meet the principal.

Apple is sitting on a sofa with legs crossed, chewing gum. Looking every inch a principal, she gives me a don’t-intrude look and makes a curt speech before I can utter a word. “If you have come to take Saif’s side, then don’t. He misbehaved in the class. He is a math’s teacher, and he was laughing while teaching. What kind of impression will it leave on students?”

“She was also giggling when she came inside the class, though she tried to hide her face,” Saif voices his grievance against the principal.

“She hardly leaves us alone. And she doesn’t let us make the planner or take attendance,” teacher Zainab has her own set of complaints against the principal.

“And she asks me how to spell attendance," Maheen, the big sister, rolls her eyes and laughs.

Apple glowers at her, and I ignore this irreverent comment.

I plead on Saif’s behalf, appeal to Apple’s sense of justice, and draw her attention to the paucity of good teachers. Apple finally relents. After all, good mathematics teachers are hard to find.

What I find really impressive is the way Apple is carrying out the entire school business. So professionally. And she saves her pocket money to pay the teachers!  

“You don’t get anything out of it, and you pay out of your pocket. In fact, you should get a handsome salary, you are the principal,” I bring up the matter with Apple.

“It's because I don’t get any fees from the parents. I am sending them another notice today. But I have to run my school, so I pay the teachers from my pocket money.”

Isn't this how we all begin…by believing in our passion, financing our dreams. Also present in this saga is some kind of power game. Being able to hire and fire, to be able to pay, to formulate rules and make others follow them… power can be intoxicating and addictive. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ginger, Cinnamon, Black Pepper

Ginger and Cinnamon fight, Black Pepper hides behind the door. Roseee, though she is enjoying a few minutes of respite, peers inside. She wants somebody to come and give her something to eat. Real quick.  I give her a plate full of chicken liver, her favorite, and watch. 

She has never been the greedy sort; if somebody gave her food she ate nonchalantly otherwise she would go and fend for herself.  But now things are different. Now Roseee has to feed her three adorable kittens.  

Ginger, Cinnamon, and Black Pepper were born on August 22. I know for sure because this is the only day when Roseee didn’t turn up. Before that day, a very pregnant Roseee used to sit outside my room and listen to the wafting melodies. This is how I got to know about her likes and dislikes in music. Nusrat Fateh Ali is her favorite singer, and her preferred genre of music is qawali. During her pregnancy, Roseee used to sleep for long hours at a stretch, and also developed a taste for omelette.

Ginger
I know she wanted to have her kitties here, but I couldn’t live up to her expectation. I failed to provide her a dark private place where could begin her maternal journey in peace. So, an independent soul that she is, she went and delivered her babies somewhere on August 22. 

The next day she came for a visit, stayed for just ten minutes, ate, and ran away to be with her kittens. With every passing day the duration of her visits became longer. And daily the Lilliputians and I coaxed her to bring her kittens here. We so wanted to cuddle them. I wondered if she would ever forgive me for not being able to go the extra mile for her sake.

But Roseee’s love, though indifferent, is generous.

And one day it happened. I heard a muffled cheeoon cheeoon, went outside, looked behind the washing machine, and found Roseee nursing her three kittens. From that day on, the family has been living here.

Cinnamon & Black Pepper
 And now.

Daily there is something new to learn and observe. Now we know that Ginger is the naughtiest of the lot. He wants his mother all for himself, pushes his siblings away when he suckles her. Cinnamon is fond of eating and, very young though he is, tries to taste everything that his mother eats. Black Pepper is very shy and hides behind the door every time somebody tries to touch her.   

Roseee sometimes leaves her kittens and comes to me while I am busy in my nightly ramble on the rooftop. For a while she walks with me, nuzzles against my legs, then sits and looks at the stars rather wistfully. Post partum melancholy, I guess.

Since the day the kittens started living here the land of Lilliputians has been resounding with shrieks:

“Look, Roseee is licking her kittens just the way she licks herself!”

“Ginger tries to walk, but he wobbles and sits back!”

“Cinnamon has started walking!”

“Black Pepper finally let me hold her!”

“Today Ginger climbed up the washing machine...he is getting bigger!”


The excitement is understandable. The Lilliputians are witnessing life itself as it unfolds everyday on our terrace. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

With a Dice, a Few Curtain Carriers, and Some Paper

The package of being a younger brother comes with its privileges. But there are certain inconveniences, too. Ask Omar. You can be treated as a meddlesome mouse, or an irritating fly.

“Leave us alone, Omar. We want to play, stop bothering us,” Saif and Zainab tell Omar who is eying their brand new games of monopoly, ludo, and carom.

There are many ways to handle an injustice of such proportion. Sulking and whining can get things done but it is, of course, not as effective as kicking the locked door, or trying the full might of your lungs.

Though Omar has nothing against testing the capacity of his lungs every once in a while, he has other ways of dealing with such discriminations. His classic response is: “Okay. No big deal. I will make a game like this for myself.” And he sets to work.

After an hour of concentrated effort, he emerges with a handful of all the equipment he needs to play these games.

Loaded with the equipment, which seems like a humble paper pouch, he asks me “Do you want to play monopoly with me?”

“Yes,” I say and look on as he takes out a paper and unfolds it. Then he fumbles inside the paper pouch and scoops out two plastic curtain carriers, and a dice.

We are sll set to begin the match. Obviously, Omar wins the game.

 After losing two rounds of monopoly, and feeling like a loser , I am subjected to more rounds of Omar’s ludo and carom. Seeing my dejection, and to make me feel good, he eventually lets me win one round of carom board. I finally feel the winner’s high.  

Omar has not just invented the portable versions of the games, he has also changed the established rules. For instance, in carom you just have to flick the dice in toward the centre circle. If it lands inside it you win. No black and white pieces, no striker, no queen. And you play ludo and monopoly with just two curtain carriers plus a dice.


Broadly speaking, Omar’s games can be jointly labeled as “Finding your way out of any labyrinth.” 

Omar's rules….well, they are about defying the established rules to unearth more interesting possibilities.  

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A Grimm’s Fairy Tale

It is about a donkey who decides to reinvent himself. Just when his master writes him off as too old and good-for-nothing, the donkey plans a career change,” I tell the Lilliputians who ask me what I find so interesting about a particular Grimm’s fairly tale.

The expressions on their faces tell me I haven’t been able to convincingly convey my immense admiration for the story.

I try again. “It is about a donkey with high self esteem and the courage of his convictions. It is about friendship. It is about how our own fears can transform shadows into hideous goblins, so a cat becomes a witch, a dog  becomes a man with a knife, a donkey becomes a black monster, a good old rooster becomes a devil whose simple crowing is heard as ‘throw the rascal up there’ and so on.”

Very intelligent listeners that they are, they manage to cull out a few useful words from my largely unintelligible account of ‘The Travelling Musicians.’

“So it’s about a donkey, a cat, a dog, and a rooster. And they are friends?” one of them asks, editing my garbled details to a succinct, one-lined statement.

“What happens in the story?” another now asks a precise question to help me focus on the essentials.

“Once upon a time, there was a donkey who faithfully served his master for many years. When the donkey became old and unfit for work, the master decided to get rid of him. The donkey got a whiff of his master’s plan, but he wasn’t the type to sulk over the situation or make revenge plans. He made up his mind to give himself a makeover by going to city and becoming a musician.”

“Musician!” they laugh.

“Yes, he believed in himself. He thought he had a wonderful voice. On his way to the city, he met other friendless and lonely animals. The donkey told them about his decision to explore new ways of living and offered them to join him to form a music group-after all, they all had interesting voices- and hold concerts in the city.  The donkey’s enthusiasm rubbed off on the animals, they found the idea of music group and concert interesting, and jogged along the donkey.”

“Music group of animals!” now the Lilliputians understand why I gush over the story.


We read the entire story together; we all are charmed by the narrative. And there isn’t just one reason to like it.  

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Goldilocks Revisited

“Again my yellow bowl! Why you always take my bowl, and you are always eating cereal,” says Omar in a voice that’s higher and shriller with both anger and exasperation.

“I like your bowl. Cereal is my comfort food.”

Omar is not interested in knowing how I deal with my emotional and spiritual lows. And he is possessive about his cereal bowl. “Can’t you eat in another bowl? Take the green one.”

“Eating in your bowl makes me feel like Goldilocks,” I tell him.

My penchant for occasionally living out my life in fairy tales never fails to evoke Omar’s admiration. And now I have his attention.

“And I am the baby bear,” he laughs with a flash of recognition in eyes.  

“Yes. But we are friends. Godlilocks ran away in the end instead of making friends with the baby bear. They could have had so much fun together,” I voice my primordial issues with Goldilocks.

Omar thinks for a while and nods his head in agreement. “But why did she run away? Why didn’t she ask the bear to be her friend?”

“Maybe she thought people would consider it odd if she were seen romping about with a bear. Or maybe she was just afraid that the bear would say no to her friendship,” I try to think of the probable apprehensions that might have bothered Goldilocks.

“But it’s not odd. We play with teddy bears, don’t we? And why was she afraid… the bear could have said yes.”

“He could have said no,” I try to think like Goldilocks.

“So? She could have asked again,” Omar shrugs. My reasons don’t resonate with his ideas about people, bears, and friendship.

Omar isn’t yet tainted with the compulsions of conformity and tricks of the ego. I hope he always remains free.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

New Friend: Roseee the Cat

Roseee is a whimsical cat. For some reason she has decided to adopt the land of Lilliputians as her home.

Roseee was wooed the way stray cats ought to be befriended: with milk and butter. It was her skeletal look that made us want to fatten her up. Real fast. Perhaps all our milk-butter maneuvers touched a chord in her heart, perhaps she really likes us.

The rather unimaginative name, Roseee, stuck to her because Roshan's Baba uttered the word and she lifted her green eyes, looked at us disarmingly. Writing her name with three eee is my way of making the name extra special. But in my hyperbolic imaginative way, I also like to think that the name, Roseee, has a deeper meaning. Etymology of Roseee can be traced back to the word rose, the rose scent is elusive, roseee the cat is elusive, too. We can’t hold on to her, she likes her independence. 

There is also something royal about the name. It was Nur Jehan the queen who accidently discovered rose essence when she had the reservoirs in her garden filled with rose water in preparation for a banquet for her king, husband, Jehangir.  The banquet was actually Nur Jehan’s re-avowal of love for Jehangir after some marital tiff. A highly creative way to makeup after a squabble, I must say.

And so, as the story goes, at dawn she found a film of oil on top of the water in reservoirs. She smelled it, loved the fragrance, smeared herself with it, and went to meet Jehangir…..

Roseee has about her that royal air, the haughtiness… yes, it is a bit too far fetched, I concede.  

The land of Lilliputians is Roseee’s temporary home. Mercurial as she is, we are subjected to her vanishing acts from time to time. There are days when she can laze away the entire day, lying on a table in the veranda, doing cat stretches at regular intervals. And there are days when the Lilliputians and I wait and wait for her to show up, to lap up the milk we put in her plate in anticipation. Then she arrives, her mew-mew mingling with the shrieks of the Lilliputians and my cooings.


This is the way she likes to be: independent, with no strings attached. 

Maybe Roseee can teach us a thing or two about love without its trappings. But then, I guess, you have to be a cat to be so emotionally independent, to be able to occasionally turn your back to the world and sleep peacefully, to love and remain indifferent.  

Monday, 17 June 2013

Parting ways

“Do you know how to do partition?” Omar asks me.

“Partition? Why, what happened?” I ask. My mind races through the possible battle scenes amongst the Lilliputians that had led to the ultimate decision to create boundary walls.

“I want a partition in my hair,” he bends his head so I can clearly see the space that needs to be ‘partitioned.’ Then he points to his left side and hands me a comb. “I want it here.”

“Oh, side parting. That’s easy.” I quickly run the comb through his hair.

“Partition done?” Omar asks as I put down the comb.

“Yes. Go look in the mirror.”

A second later, I hear a voice that seems like a prelude to a tantrum.

“You call this partition?” Omar shrieks.

“No, I call this parting,” I say in a quiet voice. The idea is to set an example of polite conversation.

Neither my impressive vocabulary nor my well-mannered conversing style impresses Omar. In fact, nothing registers.

“The line in my hair is not straight, and my skin is not visible. You said you knew how to do partition,” Omar thumps his feet on the floor.

“Okay. Bring me a scale and some water. I will have to wet your hair and use the scale to make a straight line,” I try to calm him by imparting some professional and technical touch to the entire undertaking.

Omar is impressed. He brings me a scale and some water. I wet his hair and with the help of the ‘scale’ divide it into two sections. Lo and behold! A beautiful part runs down the left side of his head.

To save my art work for future reference I take a photograph of this perfect partition and show it to Omar. “It looks like a white zebra crossing-minus stripes dividing a black road,” I comment on my art work. The analogy pleases Omar; he rushes to the looking glass, stands there, and admires himself for a while.

“This is better, but the partition is not wide enough. I want my scalp to be visible,” he comments while still looking in the mirror. “Do you think you could pluck some of my hair to make it wider?”

“It will hurt. This looks quite good. But why do you want this zebra crossing-minus stripes in your hair?” I obviously want to know the reason behind this sudden fascination with ‘partition’.

“I saw it on somebody. See it makes me look different,” Omar says while still looking in the mirror and feeling quite pleased with his new look.

Has Omar caught the fashion bug? And is it just the beginning?

Omar wants to look different by looking like somebody else. Isn’t this what fashion is all about?


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Magical TV


It’s a paper that Mobby holds and gazes at with amazement.

But what a paper it is! Apparently it’s merely a page torn out of his big brother’s activity book and bedecked with some art work. But then, take one look at it through Mobby’s eyes and you can see a rollickingly alive world that changes and spins before your eyes.

Actually it’s a TV. It’s a TV that has been invented as an act of defiance.

“Amma said no more cartoons. So I have made my own TV, and now I can watch it even while lying in bed,” Mobby tells me with a frown that, as we have now learned to recognize, signifies his defiant I-will-figure-out-a-way-out-of-this-adult-mess mood.

He jabs his fingers at each picture in the ‘TV’ and tells me about the wonderland ruled by a ladybug. A pretty, smiling ladybug.

“I asked Amma to draw the ladybug, and then I made: a kangaroo who sits on a long ladder; a snake that is trying to grab ladybug’s banana; a spider that looks like a bat; a few green cockroaches; and an arrow and a few swords for the ladybug to rule her kingdom with,” Mobby narrates the drama happening in his TV.

Ah! It’s a matriarchal world. I like it.

This magical TV does Mobby’s bidding, and that’s the best part. Mobby can project his favorite images on the screen and the drama changes accordingly. The ladybug can decide to crush the snake with her sword, or, if it is one of her generous moments, can let the snake have her banana. The kangaroo can climb up the ladder to say hello to the ladybug, or it can just watch the cockroaches crawling on the ground. The spider can be nasty and crush the cockroaches, or it can be devoured by the snake.

So on, and on.

Mobby has figured out a way to see what he wants to see; from time to time he can inhabit a world that’s just the way he likes it.

I can understand Mobby’s fascination with this wonderland. I also have one such TV.  

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Mysterious Doings of Hens


 The door opens with a thud as Saif runs inside; he flings his school bag on the floor and asks: “How many?”

“Four,” somebody replies.

“Just four?” Saif says and his brow furrows in consternation. Now he opens the fridge and inspects the objects of his mathematical enquiry: four brown eggs sit smugly in the egg container. But they are just four!

Since the day my carnivorous family ate up Napoleon and his family, ten new hens have been living in the hen coop and carousing under the grape fruit and tangerine trees. And they lay eggs. While every Lilliputian is impressed with the mysterious feat that the hens are capable of, Saif is totally bewitched. 

He sits for hours in front of the hen coop, observing the hens in a bid to find out how they manage to make eggs without any apparent exertion on their part. Added to this ponderous undertaking is another overriding concern: since there are ten hens, there should be ten eggs.

So when Saif comes in the afternoon and finds out that only four hens have been efficient enough to prepare the deliverables, he worries. The slack performance of the rest of the hens takes him to the hen coop where he tries to somehow take the lazy hens to task. He sits there, watching the hens, making them nervous and, perhaps, guilty as well. He keeps staring at them till every hen has gone inside her private ‘room’ and delivered. All this happens under his probing, rebuking stares.
 
Saif has now become expert at coaxing the lazy ones to do what has to be done. And the many hours of monitoring and supervising the egg laying operation have also enabled him to come up with a few facts about the mysterious doings of hens.

“When a hen decides to lay eggs, it goes inside the nest and sits there. The sitting time is spent in making an egg. When the hen is sure that it has made an egg, it stands up, squats, pushes its tale up, and releases the egg. The jubilant hen then leaves the nest and goes cluck, cluck, cluck. The other hens also join to announce the feat that has been accomplished,” Saif narrates the entire process.  

Saif is awed by the entire spectacle. It’s a pity that with time Saif will lose his sense of wonder and the doings of hens will be become a mere label: eggs.

Monday, 25 March 2013

A Ship, A Ship


 Under my bed is Omar’s treasure trove. It is an odd assortment of a few planks of wood, a handle of some discarded racket, a few iron rods, a gigantic nail that serves the purpose of a hammer, and the miraculous scotch tape that can join a few unlikely objects to make dreams come true.

The cave under my bed is considered an ideal repository not just of Omar’s property but his trust as well.

“I know you will never throw it away. Everybody thinks it’s junk, but you will not let anyone touch it, right?” he asks me with no trace of doubt in his eyes about my unflinching loyalty.

“I won’t,” I reiterate my trustworthiness. Don’t we all have treasure troves that can well be junkyards for others? Who knows why something is treasured by someone and for what reason.

“And if you do so….,” here he rolls his eyes, puts his hands on his hips and makes a face depicting all the anger that a six year old can muster up. “I will be very angry.” Omar likes to assert his authority from time to time by assuming this eye-rolling-mock-anger pose to make sure that I don’t forget who’s is really the boss.

“Now, don’t scare me. Nobody will be allowed even to sneak a peek at it,” I say.

“Good.” Omar is reassured. I know he believes not only in my allegiance to his cause but my docility as well.

Actually this preparation against any untoward invasion of his property is driven by an assault on the ship that Omar made using Saif’s wickets as keel of the ship. And as long as the wickets served as keel of Omar’s ship, cricket would have been in limbo and a cricket-less world is a major calamity in Saif’s scheme of things. So he dismantled Omar’s ship.

After a decisive waterloo that ensued the dismantling of the ship, Omar collected a few more items and decided to start again. And he selected the cave under my bed to house his building material.

“I will build a ship. And we will go to Karachi,” he decides to reward my loyalty by taking me on a cruise.

Perhaps this is what our intensely personal treasures are meant for: to make a ship for charting the turbulent and exciting waters of life.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Mobby’s Great Temptation


The zeal for self improvement and self developments can hit you once in a while. But when a three- year- old feels its lure and succumbs to it, it is mighty impressive. 

One morning Mobby decides to embark on a journey towards perfection. And, as he is wont to do, he announces his life-altering decision at breakfast. His journey begins by a public avowal of resisting something dark and sweet: chocolate.

“I will never eat chocolate again,” he vows. 

But who ever said that the path to excellence is not paved with mouthwatering temptations! Just when you want to be good, you encounter all the good reasons to be not so good.

“Oh! Is that so? I was thinking of buying a big packet of chocolates…too bad, you can’t eat it,” I become temptation personified.

Mobby purses his lips tightly and his eyes open wide with a disbelieving expression. He obviously isn’t prepared for this attempt on my part to dissuade him from the righteous path.

“Chocolate can make your teeth black.” He gives me an accusing look.

“Yes. So it’s good that you have decided not to eat it. Now Roshan (his big brother) can have two.” By now I have started enjoying the expression on Mobby’s face. I think this has to do with some genetic code in my DNA which rolls back to Eve.

“Chocolate can give you worms in your tummy,” Mobby comes up with another reason to support his argument. I can see that he is trying to convince himself.  

“All the more reason not to eat it. Let others have worms and black teeth,” I smile at him and have a strong feeling that Mobby doesn’t like me anymore.

Second day. I have forgotten all about the Mobby’s resolve and my role of the temptress; but Mobby hasn’t.

The first thing he asks me in the morning is: “Did you buy chocolates?”

I look at him. Yesterday’s determined look on Mobby’s face is now replaced by an anxious expression betraying inner struggle.

“I was busy yesterday, but will get them today. You are not eating them, right?” There is definitely some primordial genetic code at work.

“No,” his voice is feeble and he adds, “are you going to buy the big bars of chocolate or small ones?”

“Big ones,” I say with relish.

“Big ones are not so bad for teeth.”  Mobby is now learning to rationalize.

“I don’t think so. In fact, big one is worse, it can blacken your teeth faster.” I haven’t given up my negative role.

Mobby’s is not listening to me. He is considering something else: “Are you going to buy the ones with nuts or without nuts?” he asks.

“With nuts,” I reply.

“Chocolates with nuts don’t give you worms.” He is gradually piling up arguments for his inevitable decision.

“I don’t think so. But you want to eat it?” I ask.

“No,” he pauses and replies in a still feeble voice.

Third day. Mobby still hasn’t forgotten about the chocolates which I never bought. But on the third day of his resolve he is seems happy. The determined, anxious look has given way to a relaxed demeanor. He has settled the issue of his temptation.

“I also want to have chocolates,” he tells me.

“But black teeth and worms?”

“It doesn’t matter.”  Mobby goes skipping outside to play.

Mobby was able to resist his temptation for two whole days. Not a mean feat for a three-year-old; it is more than what many of can manage at a much more advanced age.