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Papa Kehte Hein …

January 6, 2015

Post originally penned in Nov 2014: Updated just now.

Missing my beta! His room is so… organized and clean and neat now that I hate it! None to scream at, none to nag… There is not even a purpose for going into kitchen! Anything will do for us. How our children become the focus and sunshine of our lives. No fun in shopping, going on long drives, eating out, nothing! Though in parents’absence he’s enjoying to the hilt with his friends at this very moment in Chennai…! I am adding up a post here that celebrates the father-son relationship, a very special one…

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For the sake of the Surname….

One of the amazing pictures that is doing rounds in Facebook for years is this cute Father-Son picture:

One of the loveliest pictures I have seen in my life is this collage.

I am giving reasons here why sons grow up adoring dads!!!

I have a list of complaints about my college-going son to my husband always. Here is his ready response:

Me: He is not having hair-cut and he is growing a beard.

He: I was like that too in that age!

Me: He is listening to horrible and noisy western music!

He; I was like that too in that age!

Me: He plays violent computer games or PS or whatever.

He: I heard computer games improve your strategic skills – like they make you think smarter!!

Me: He hangs out too much with friends, always partying or at cinema, beach, etc. His world is his friends!

He: I too was like that! (oh don’t i know!)

Me: He is always with his phone.

He: This generation is like that. We cannot and should not keep him from technology!! Samsung S4 is a revolution and so is IPad. If you keep him away from what is latest in market, he might be left behind by peers! (only dads can find logic to their sons’ greeds!)

Me: He doesn’t know the value of money

He: I too used to be reckless.

Me: He is overspeeding in car/bike.

He: Don’t be overprotective, but you talk to him.

Me: He is talking to girls. Gets home some.

He: You must be worried only if he is not!

Me: May be he smokes? drinks when there is no adult supervision?!

He: Normal for his age! so long as he is not picking up the habit,ignore!

Me: He is wearing the same faded old jeans for days, even weeks! Unwashed!

He: Everyone does!

Me: His room is a mess, his study is a mess.

He: What are you for?! (the cheek Indian husbands have)

Me: He is eating on his bed!

He: He is that busy!

Me: He actually smells,,, is he showering properly?!

He: That is called ‘male smell.’ Hormonal change, you won’t ever understand! Problem with girls growing up in families without boys! (because I grew up in a set-up without scent of men mostly my husband assumes I know nothing about men/boys).

Me: He is mostly unkempt, dresses horrible, looks dirty!

He: That is teenage fashion!!! Girls like it! It is genius look actually!

Me; He is not studying! (my main grouse)

He: But his performance speaks, so ignore.

Me: May be he watches porn with friends?!

He; Who does not?! now does he?! (chuckles and sounds as if pleased with this bit of information!) and adds,’he has to in this age!’

So now you know why boys love their dads over their moms!

Is this why they say, ‘Like father, like son?’

Whenever my husband is in town, my son drives him if both go out together.

I am touched by this buddy-buddy equation. Said my husband to my son, ‘wait until you graduate, then we can both uncork a bottle together and say ‘cheers!!’ (Although I am sure son has tasted liquor. He won’t admit it to us – but he is a rascal I know. Wouldn’t trust him.)

Whether father wants to change his phone – he asks son.

Whether father wants to get a new notebook – he asks son.

Whether father wants to get watch/shirt/shoes – he asks son.

Whether father wants to buy appliances/tech stuff – he asks son.

What a beautiful thing this is.

Last time we boarded a Sri Lankan airways flight, my son spoke to his dad before switching off his phone in the flight, ‘dad you have to see the sri lankan air hostesses. entire midriff showing! next time you must take this flight, you will enjoy!’

‘That’s enough!’ I warned both men, and told my husband in no uncertain terms, ‘your son cannot become your best buddy. you are his father and you will have to keep that in mind.’ Then I told my son, ‘your father is not your friend, respect certain boundaries and do not overstep!’

To which he said, “Ma, you are overreacting always for everything!’ Now am I?

Mom means ‘terror’ to my son naturally.

My boy joined pre-school (or play school) by 2 and a half years but we moved to Malaysia when he started his KG at 3 years. In Malaysia, i gave him homeschooling for KG as well as standard 1 & 2, taking CBSE books from India. In 2001, he joined class 3 straight away back in Chennai. The adjustment was very tough on him, it was like starting KG all over again. Regular school was very taxing and the homework burden was worst. I had to push him double hard in class 3 since there were 3 languages plus a vast syllabus to cope up with.

As my little son was sulking, i brought out his KG school diary issued by his old convent in 1997-98, one he hardly used (as we left during the term). I explained to him that is how schools in India functioned. He kept the old diary with him and I totally forgot about it.

Recently while packing & clearing old stuff from his book shelves, I found the diary back. With a difference. The once blank KG diary now had lots of scribbles – done by my son probably in his 7th year in class 3 when life became miserable for him in a new school and new environment. And the villain of his life was certainly ME, HIS MOTHER! So sweet, the diary is now my wealthy possession. Those innocent days will never come back I know!

So when dads are getting the boys chocolates and icecreams and bikes and cars and playstations and mobiles, what are we moms doing?! We end up getting brickbats while dads get all the bouquets!!!

Last night when my son was talking into his cell with a friend, unearthed this ‘truth’ about his ‘hardwork’ for forthcoming semester exams: caught him red-handed!

So we moms get to do all the dirty work …. so its not surprising we are not heroines in our sons’  lives. Whether its about girls or girlfriends or partying or studying – one thing we keep doing is harassing our sons to ‘behave.’ Something that dads never do directly. Instead they delegate work to us moms and we come to bear the brunt.

And how so very clever of dads! Whenever something is good about their sons, it is their gene. If there should be anything nagging, its got to be the mothers’ gene! I think every Indian family is like this. Like the famous ‘family songs’ in bollywood pictures (like ‘Yaadon ki baraat’ lolz for instance), I can say this gene matter is an equally famous family dialogue of Indian fathers.

One thing that still surprises me is, how unlike us mothers who are rather emotional and expressive about our affections, fathers and sons choose to play it cool…. What I never see is, my husband and son hugging or petting – its amazing, the kind of restraint they show… whereas for me, hugging & kissing are most natural – there is honestly no embarrassment…

My usually cool son first time took me by total shock when he  touched my feet before leaving for standard 10 boards. Then a repeat before leaving for class 12 board exams. Now I know if its exam time, beta will be so much full of respect and reverence for mother. And even grandmother. Exam times are one day he will not wipe-off the ‘holy ash’ (vibhuthi) i anoint him with before he leaves home… And during result times, he will definitely try to visit Ganesha temple. In fact over-visit. Like circumambulate Ganesh Prahar for 108 times like that! “Are you by any chance paying Ganesh any bribe?!’ I am compelled to ask!

What I never tell my son is: when he is in the exam hall writing his exams, I recite the Lakshmi Hayagriva Mantra 11 times and also the Saraswathi slokas and Guru slokas and Anjaneya slokas praying and pleading with all Gods to get into my son’s brains and flow as fluid in his pen, writing his exams for him…. (!) His board exam times were most anxious moments for me in my life… My daily prayers are not only for his physical health, but also for his memory power, intelligence, higher studies, future career, wife, children everything…

We mothers can never play cricket or ride our sons around in motorbikes…. but physically and emotionally we live for our families. My life is my family. What other meaning is there to this life.

The other day as I was leaving for Zumba, I posted the customary whatsapp message to the men – my husband and son: ‘Not home for next 1-30 hours. Don’t call me in the class.’ Came back the reply from Doha: ‘take umbrella if its raining!’ And son said, ‘poor zumba guy training middle-age ladies!’

‘Married for 21 years yaar,still you have to report your every move to husband and son?!’ said a friend.

Yeah right, isn’t she? So when will the Indian Nari learn?!

Never thought of it that way. Mothers and Fathers are 2 different species.

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My son mailed me the ‘statement of purpose’ he wrote for universities. In it he says, ‘My father is my greatest inspiration. From the time I turned 3, I have been visiting his projects – from highways & bridges, to petrochem to reservoirs. When I saw how engaging and challenging physically and mentally civil engineering is, I thought it was the one for me.’ (not his exact words).

24 hours a day, 30 days a month, 365 days an year he is with me. My boy is maximum with me over his dad always. Dad never stood in queue to get application form for son from school or engineering college. I did. Dad never attended a single school sports day or other event, or dropped son at school gates, I did! But dad still is my son’s superhero. Our children are watching us all the time. We are a reason for what they may make out of their lives in future. Which is why a parent’s responsibility is tremendous.

We never forced our son into this field. It is his choice out and out. I am for one thing always against civil engineering. This field is the reason I did not go for a second child in a way. Too much separation from the parent for a child is not good. And I was against the idea of raising my child anywhere outside India. Whether its heat and dust or crowded PTC buses or dirty streets, I thought Indian children growing up in competitive Indian atmosphere benefit the most. The illusory foreign scene was not something I liked for my son. Air-conditioned schools – not laughing loud or shouting or chasing other boys in the neighbourhood etc – these are just some of the restrictions we have to impose on children growing up in middle-east. After 12 years, even boys don’t go out in shorts. This kind of stiffling atmostphere gives me the fright. And how many extra classes our kids attend here. From swimming to musical instruments to other sports activities … and then extra coaching for instance for entrances to professional courses etc…

My son keeps telling me always, he is low on sports in a way, because he is staying away from his dad for very many years. And that really makes us feel guilty. There are things I guess a mother still cannot give her son the way the father can. Maximum I could do was take him to swimming pools. 

My friends with girls tell me, similar is the relationship between mothers and daughters. Unfortunately neither do I know anything of this. My friends go shopping these days with their girls which I think is cool! Mothers and daughters share jeans, salwar kameez, bangles etc between them. I really miss this, so sad.

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Updated today:

To be fair to my son, he sent me last week this cute pic in ‘whatsapp.’Whenever I ask him in Skype or Voip whether he is missing me, he outright denies it, being the big boy he is now. But the message tells me a different story.

Going back to my beta shortly… Missing him like anything!

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