Dear Mummy,

Came to know today that you read this blog even if the posts are not related to your grandson. Nanaji used to tell me that interest(me) is dearer than principal(you). You have not felt the need to express the same. The glow on your face, the day Adhip first came home after his birth, spending a little more time at hospital than we all expected, made you look 10 years younger. It was clear to all of us that the grandmother, the mother with experience, had enough of being a mother. It was your expression that screamed louder than anything you said that day and it was “मूल से सूद ज्यादा प्यारा होता है”.

Raising Adhip is anything but easy. There are times when both his parents strongly feel about distancing themselves through the veil of discipline. Then we recall how you lovingly complain about his attacks on you with his 2 arms, 2 legs and the head used like a गदा (mace). So we pull ourselves for the umpteenth time and try to behave as you would.

He has chosen to be as adamant as I was. Now he reminds me of how I tortured you from the moment you returned home from school, not even waiting for a second to let you catch your breath. I did not do anything just because you had asked me to do so and ‘your interest’ is repaying me with compound interest for my past behaviour .

I did not like the school that you chose for me which was so close to our house. That you took two buses, everyday each way, to teach at your school, was fascinating stuff and I wanted my share. Made me feel it was a trip picnic everyday. Adhip likes the bus even more. But that could be about avoiding the bland view of the London underground. Besides he likes his school so he does not need a fascination for buses to improve the experience.

You repeatedly told me to continue at my old school till I completed fifth grade standard before joining your school. But after finishing two years I resorted to my default adamant self. My school punished us every time we misspelled any word. Though I used to get 10/10 more often than not, there was a backbencher whom teacher would hit on his knuckles with a ruler, once for every mistake. Only once, I got 8/10 and just like the way Dr Dang threatened in Karma, the goonj(गूंज) of the ruler hitting knuckles has stayed with me.

So I stood my ground and convinced you to get me admitted in your school. There was an admission test which I took with grade 2 students supervised by the smiling Gupta madam. At the end of that test you came to speak to her where she said that I was quite bright for a child applying to join second standard. You jumped with that typical expression of yours. Not sure how to address the lapse, you explained that I should have taken the test for third grade instead. After calming you she later took me to a different classroom and supervised me alone complete the written English, Mathematics and Hindi tests.

My earlier school did not teach Hindi or Marathi until we turned eight. But I had learned to read and write the Devanagari script at home. One of the questions in my Hindi test was about the feminine form for peacock (मोर). Using my वाघ/वाघीण analogy from Marathi, I instantly shouted back – “मोरीण”! Well it was a wrong answer in Hindi but worse wrong in Marathi as well since लान्डोर stands for peahen. But you can cut me some slack because even Na Dho Mahanor said मी मुक्त मोरनी बाई चांदन्यात न्हाती since मी मुक्त लान्डोर बाई चांदन्यात न्हाती does not sound poetic. 🙂

Anyway, Gupta madam hinted quietly that this was a test in Hindi so I should find the feminine for thief (चोर) instead. I promptly replied चोरनी and soon jotted down मोरनी in that answer sheet.

Imagine my surprise when on my first day at school, after the second break, lecture 6 began with the entry of the same Gupta madam, sans that smiling face, where I was beaming and the rest of the class was observing “गप्प बसा” (pin drop silence). She started checking homework and boxing the ears of those who did not complete it. Within few hours of starting at a new school, where others had started a few weeks earlier, I sighted the dreaded ruler in her hands. Thankfully, that was the worst. It all went uphill. After setting the tone, she did not punish anyone. She did not have to. Her reputation ensured the “no-nonsense co-operation” from all of us.

But let me start with the opening hour. In my very first class, Mahajan madam our class teacher who taught us Mathematics, asked us to name the largest two digit number. I was really worried. I knew largest and number but had no idea about “digit”. It was the same feeling that I felt years later, on my first weekend alone in the business district of Tokyo, feeling illiterate, unable to read, speak or write the local language. “What have I done to myself?” was the question I asked myself. On both occasions it turned out to be a splendid choice. A smart girl answered all the variations of smallest and largest 2, 3 and 4 digit numbers and I soon understand the concept. I relaxed. The new school was not going to be very tough. A week later, when the same question was asked in the class, no one raised the hand, not even that girl. I happily answered noting that on my first day it was rote learning that had made me feel so conscious.

Still not coming to the point, you may be wondering. It was Bibikar madam teaching English in between who made way for Pidiyar Sir as he walked in to teach Science. He asked us about transplantation. I had never heard of it. Besides what a long word. You can write it to fill the blackboard. He described the process and I thought to myself, good for the farmers who do it but this one is not for me.

Years later, that is precisely what we had to do. Take a look at the back garden as seen from the window of your room in London.

The wall dividing the paved part was knocked off on both sides out of compulsion. Rainwater was finding a way to the walls of utility room. So we got rid of the jasmine wall on left. The roots of the 12ft tree that had grown on right was damaging the fence. Hence, over two weeks, we moved the tree way way back in the garden and it now stands closer to the shed. A flower bed replaces the wall where the old tree once stood.

There is more space for Adhip to play. He also climbs easily on the transplanted tree. We bought a sandpit for him which he has always enjoyed at school. I hope grandma appreciates these changes made for her grandson.

With Lots of Love,


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