So Where is Home for Me?

The cliched answer would be..home is where my heart is.

And I have my heart very much safe and alive in Delhi. So to me Delhi is home. India, to say it in a larger scheme of the term. Despite her misgivings. Despite her shortcomings. Despite the fact that I left my country about 13 years ago along with my husband in pursuit of a better life. Despite all that that is home for me because I was born and raised there, earned and learned a major chunk of who I am from there, and more importantly I am a citizen of my country.

Because.. all said and done, no matter how much I may have gained from here in the Middle East, how so ever much this region may have done and may be doing to make us feel accepted, it will never accept me as its own, as its citizen. That status, that honour, that privilege I will always from the country I was born in, and belong to.  And that makes a lot of difference in the way I perceive the definition of home. Which is why there’s still the hope and resolve to go back to her for good again one day.

Now in the last decade plus that I have been away, we have moved places many times, each time making the city we moved to, our own little home away from home. Its not as if we have ever felt unwelcome in any of the places the we have lived, we have perfectly been able to warm up to them and vice versa. Yet, there has been a conscious effort to keep the flame of our intention to go back, burning . We have never had a long term plan to live in this region ever. In fact when we left Delhi in 2002, to come to the Middle East, we had told ourselves that we will go back in 2 years. Its a different thing that its been 13 years here! Yet the region is a wee bit away from being a home in the truest sense. Its probably because the lever of the 25 years of my life in India is still heavier than the 13 years that I have been here. So the sense of belonging is still more towards my home country than the adapted one.

I do not know what life has in store for me and my family. Where we will be in the next 5 years, so to speak. I am not sure whether my views or my definition of home will undergo a change ever. What I do know is that I am immensely grateful for the way life has shaped up so far. And I hope I continue to be, wherever my family and I are.

(S)welled up..

With pride.

The 5 and a half years of motherhood have given me ample and more things to learn, to grow as a mother( have miles to go before I can grow upto be even half as good a mother as my Ma though), to feel blessed. And I can never thank God enough for bringing Namnam into my life for she makes me appreciate this wonderful life as a mother all the more, for I learn a new facet of parenting everyday as I watch her grow. Be it her first smile, her first step, her first word, the first time she said ‘Amma’, be it the first time she said ‘I love you’ and every time after that, be it her first day in school, be it her first stage performance, each chapter in her life has been an overwhelming curve for me as well.

And yesterday was one such moment where my li’l sweetheart made me all teary-eyed and immensely proud like always.

Her school had organized its science exhibition yesterday. Her(rather her parents’) project was to make a volcano. And her teacher called up to tell us that she wanted Namnam to speak a few sentences as well on a certain topic on the given day. Now since R is the craftier one in the family, quite conveniently the task of making the volcano was handed over to him and I volunteered to take up the easier task of prepping Namnam for the talk :).

When the teacher called up to say that she wanted Namnam to speak in front of people, knowing fully well that she was one of those shy kinds who had to be pushed into coming out of the shell, I couldnt help but feel grateful yet again for she was blessed with such attentive and wonderful teachers in this academic session as well. Here was a teacher who knew she was shy and soft-spoken, urging me to prep her to talk a few sentences ‘loudly’- yes she must have mentioned the term loud at least 4-5 times in between our brief conversation :)- so she could come out of her shell and learn to be more confident to face the crowd.

So after all the prepping up, I was all nervous and excited about how the day would fare, while Namnam was plain excited! R & I walked in straight to her class room where the children and teachers had exhibited the projects and were all geared up with their presentations. I wont lie, but I couldnt hold myself still when Namnam finished with her talk. I just wanted to run and hug her tight and point my pride to everyone! But guess what, R beat me to it and ran before me to give her a tight hug and a kiss while I was fiddling with my video :(.  And yes she was  confidently LOUD enough for all the visitors present there to hear :). Although R & I knew she would give us and herself even more moments like this to feel proud of, yet we couldnt stop ourselves from telling her how proud we were of her, the whole day!

And I have no one but her school and teachers to thank for it so evident how much effort and care they had put in to help her bring out her confident self. Its moments like this that reiterate how a good school can be as instrumental in shaping a child and guiding her/him towards becoming a better person. At this moment all I can hope and pray is that Namnam is always blessed with such wonderful teachers to guide in every walk of her life.

Games Our Children Play

Let me ask you something. If your child comes up to you and asks if he/she can play house-house or ghar-ghar with friends, you won’t think even for a fraction of a second before saying ‘yes’, will you? I know I won’t. In fact when I see Namnam pouring ‘tea’ into her little ‘tea-cups’ and serving it to her friends or when she puts on her gloves to take out ‘freshly-baked pizza’ from her ‘oven’ or simply rolls out a dough onto her chakla to make rotis, I go on a nostalgic trip of my own drawing similarities to my own childhood.

I remember for us kids ghar-ghar meant having a kitchen stocked with the usual saucepan, kadhai, glasses, plates, spoons,etc and each of us had a role to play. One of us would be the ‘husband’ who would have a newspaper in his hand while the ‘wife’ would bring tea, make two cups and start complaining to the ‘husband’ about how their children troubled her and didnt ‘study’. And the rest of us acted as ‘children’ either doing our homework or playing marbles or ‘gotiyaan’ as the game was known or just getting reprimanded by ‘our parents for our supposed ‘misdoings’ :D. And on days one of us had our barbie doll set, were the happiest of days. Because we could try out different dresses on her, deck her up and take chances singing lullabies to her and carrying her like a baby.

So today when I hear the term play-house or ghar-ghar, that’s image that conjures up in my mind. Namnam and her friends are combing their respective barbie’s hair, dressing her up, tucking her in bed and I smile and wish to myself that they would never grow out of this innocence.

Having said that, yesterday, when one of my relatives shared a disturbing incident that occured in the school where she teaches, it got me wondering if innocence was indeed at risk and somewhere the parents had a hand in it.

It happened in one of the school buses. A 4 year old kindergartener went up to her friend and asked him to join her in the backseat on the pretext of playing ghar-ghar. To say that I was shocked at hearing what she did next would be an understatement. She took the boy to the backseat, removed her underwear and
told him to lie on top of her. Luckily the conductor caught them just in time and reported them to their parents. The perplexed parents approached the school principal who in turn summoned the girl. And as it turned out, the girl revealed that this was a game which she and a couple of her friends in the class played regularly. Upon being asked from where she learned this game, she replied,’ mere mummy-papa khelte hai'(my mummy-papa play this game).

Now, I understand that children grasp things very fast, but if a 4year old girl asks a boy to lie on top of her then it clearly means that children grasp things much faster and much more than what they are meant to.

So how do we address this issue? Who do we blame here?

  • Do we blame these little children who dont even know what making love is or to put it more bluntly, having sex is? Do they even need to know?
  • Do we blame the TV shows, movies, advertisements, etc. for inflating their curiosity level?
  • Do we blame the living conditions in our country where so many families live in one-room flats giving zero privacy because of which many times children end up seeing things which they are not supposed to?
  • Or do we blame our regressive mentality where ‘SEX‘ is still a taboo subject and any inquisitive query from a child is treated with a snub or a shove?
  • Or is it time that we parents introspected? Will it help in safeguarding our little ones’ innocence if we, parents are a little more cautious and careful? Will it help if we parents are a little more encouraging towards discussing this subject more openly? So that if and when our little inquisitive-minds come up to us with any questions, we are ready and open enough with answers that are appropriate for their age?