Haroun, 7+, is a bit like a fizzy bottle. The moment he opens up, words gush out of him like a cascading waterfall in the peak of good monsoon. Yesterday, when I reached our Bengaluru home, he had had his lunch and was watching a cartoon channel as usual. After opening the door, he had to resolve the issue of dividing his loyalty between the TV and me. In the end, he told me, ‘Dadabhai, can I watch this final episode please?’
It was a huge sacrifice for him. And he kept his words. Soon afterwards he came into my room as I was unpacking my bag, and opened the fizzy bottle. … His school, classmates, ma’ams, the new day-care centre and the new friend he had just made. (It was the first day for him at a new day-care.) As usual, he had forgotten the name of his new friend. Incidentally, I know from whom he has got the gene that makes one forget names and faces. Ask my students, they will tell you. …
During an entire term, I kept calling Bipasha Visakha, and managed to get her name right only towards the end of the term. So when I saw her again in class recently, besides being happy to meet an old young student again, I took a vow not to forget her name ever. So in the course of a classroom discussion, I confidently addressed her as Bipasha with a sense of satisfaction and a bit of pride. From another corner of the room, Gurmeet, another former student, helpfully suggested, ‘No Sir, she is Visakha.’
For a moment, I stood in the middle of a classroom like an idiot, looking uncertainly at Bipasha/Visakha, not knowing what to say. Then the penny dropped as the class broke into a loud guffaw. See how naughty kids are these days!
Coming back to Bengaluru, Haroun had a lot more things to describe, including the 11 stages of skateboard. In the middle he digressed and said, ‘Dadabhai, Please don’t let your feet go too deep under the table.’
‘Because, two velociraptors have built their nests under the table – their egg will hatch next Monday, when you have gone.’
(While writing this, naturally, I had to check the spelling of velociraptor in a dictionary. They are “small dinosaurs that move fairly quickly”.)
Anyway, after explaining the first six stages of skateboarding, pushing off, mellow turn, sharp turn and so on, Haroun vanished. The next moment, I found him fast asleep, hugging his younger brother Toto.
For me too, it was time for a siesta. So I dozed off. When I woke up, Haroun was still sleeping, but Toto was half awake. He said with a serious face, ‘Welcome Dadabhai.’
Then he went back to sleep.
Bengaluru / Tuesday, 19 April 2016