The younger son and I have a very affectionate yet exasperating relationship. He is a boy with a mind of his own. He can be very loving and caring and yet can show an extremely mean and stubborn side in a jiffy. It all depends upon the rapport you share with him and of course his mood. He is also very matter of fact and never afraid to speak his mind. Wonder where he gets this trait from! 😉
So he accompanies me for every small chore outside the house. He can talk incessantly about cars and since he is way more knowledgable than me about cars, I have picked up a lot of details from him. 🙂 He also watches a lot of movies and shows that I watch and we end up discussing a lot of topics including food, cooking, animals, children and what have you.
The other day the younger son and I watched the movie Highway together. I didn’t like the movie so much the first time that I saw it but the second time around I enjoyed it more. There were portions in the movie that are difficult for a child to decipher. And it was interesting to see him deconstruct the contexts. It is sometimes so intriguing to see things from a child’s perspective His horror that the person who kidnapped her was the one she ended up liking or things like how could she drink water off the handpump made me delve into my own childhood memories when no one drank bottled or even filtered water. He listened with awe as I launched into my own tales. We also talked about inappropriate touch, poverty and many other social issues , the intricacies of which he cannot fathom much just now. He also curiously launched into many questions starting with Aapke zamane mein (in your times) to know about those weird days when there was no cable, smartphone, internet! These conversations are so much fun and so enriching.
The other day, as he was having his evening snack which he makes himself and chatting with me, he told me about this beautiful story that he read in school. He told me he loved the tale. You can imagine my delight when he told me the outline of the tale and I realized it was Idgah, one of my favorite stories written by Munshi Premchand. I remember feeling the same angst and mix of emotions when I had first read that story perhaps at his age. Such is the magic of storytelling, it transcends generations. I was energized to know that he would love to read more of Premchand’s stories. Elated actually! Then he mentioned how he was struggling with a question where he had to write what he would do if he were in that poor boy’s place in the story. My younger son was baffled because he did not know the challenges of the poor boy or his grandmother and their needs and hence could not put himself in the boy’s shoes. And I can see why he felt that. My own middle class roots have seen a time when buying new clothes, gifts or vacations were events. We had to save for them. Not any more! Now, we make our children spend sensibly or be thrifty to give them good financial habits not really out of deprivation at home. Hence though he empathizes, he can’t actually really know the struggles.
He was also mentioning to me that the teachers check the tiffin each day to ensure that children do not bring any junk food in their tiffin boxes. As is wont to happen, a child or two ends up having chips or something similar and then the teacher reprimands them saying that the child has a lazy mother. I was horrified to hear that comment. I explained how it was unfair to blame the mother (it could be the father, househelp or a grandparent handling the tiffin duties). The mother could be sick or out of time on that day and he agreed. See how quickly women label other women and then inculcate the seeds of their thinking in young minds. As it is most chapters that we read in their books paint a certain picture of the mother hardly keeping up with the changing societal roles of mothers. It is another story that my son mentioned that every single child says that it is their mothers who are incharge of the dabbas in their homes. So the responsibilities haven’t really changed now, have they?
Many questions for me as well after these conversations. But children, they really enrich you every step of the way. Share your experiences.
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