Sunday, June 23, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 42

Comparison – Downfall of Our Happiness

There are lot of things I have learned from Rayyan. I consider him my guide for life lessons he has taught me which has made a huge difference to my life. The most important has been about comparison, expectations and abstract beliefs.
When we shifted to Byndoor, Rayyan who was terrified of stepping into unknown waters, took to swimming, diving and just staying in water like an amphibian.
 Be it rain, pond, river or sea; he was at home in the water. He got the nick name ‘paani holla’ which is a speicies of water snake in our region. When he built good stamina, speed and passion for swimming, I was tempted to send him to swimming competitions. Rayyan refused, saying that the competitions will spoil the fun and love of water for him. 
It is difficult to get Rayyan out of pool even when the night progresses
Even with cycling he says the same. I used to argue with him that life is not just about having fun and enjoying, but also about proving yourself. Rayyan calmly replies, “I don’t think we have to prove anything to anyone maa. Why do we want to prove ourselves to be better than others? I feel comparison makes life difficult for many people. Imagine you are alone without others to compare yourself with; will you not be happy with a small shelter, any fresh food or some play time like Tarzan? Isn’t that we want more things when we see others are having it?” I am not sure how to answer that question, but I do think about it quite often.
Rayyan feels people get angry, agitated, frustrated and disappointed most of the times because of comparison. You are shorter, darker, smarter, stronger, richer, or weaker because of comparison. If you do not have anyone to compare yourself with, then your colour, height, weight, wealth, food, or anything becomes good enough.  One example he mentions is of the African’s. They became coloured people only after the presence of white Europeans. Until then, they were completely normal and happy in their continent. Though initially I resisted the theory and wanted him to be more competitive, slowly I changed. Rayyan still remains the same. We had lot of healthy debates when I used to teach him English grammar and degrees of comparison.
Somehow, I realize that his own insight has made him very peaceful. He is happy with whatever he is. As children, I remember we used to demand or yearn for things that were popular among our friends, but Rayyan has his own choices. I do not recall him even for once asking for a thing he has seen with a friend. Since he doesn’t compare himself with others, I see kind of peace in him and I have never seen him go through jealousy like I had earlier. Rayyan often buys me some gifts which is really precious to me and may be only to me because they mean a lot to me, but the best gift he has given me is the life lessons. I have learned to be happy with whatever I am today. Without Rayyan’s guidance, it would not be easy for me to deal with Farheena and her challenges.
When Rayyan had to work on a project for Arena, the topic he picked for 2D movie was something regarding how comparison to others makes everyone unhappy. He worked on it all alone because not many were interested in his project and it required lot of work. Rayyan works hard and he has passion for completing whatever he plans to do. Finally he put together this amazing short movie which got 2nd prize for him in Arena Animation, Jayanagar.

 I was overjoyed and Rayyan was happy as well. When he came home with the trophy, he was forced to pose with it so that I could treasure the memory. Farheena, was not so happy that her not so important sibling was getting so much attention from Mom, until Rayyan encouraged her to wear her medals, hold her certificates and pose with him.
Finally I realized, that the gesture of Rayyan towards making Farheena happy is what remains more important for me today than that trophy in his hand. This is the life-lesson that has changed me and made me a happy person than I was earlier. Thank you Rayyan.
 Which picture wins our hearts? The one above or the one below?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 41

Rayyan’s Girl Friends
Please do take note that there is a space put in between Girl and Friends above intentionally because the space has always been maintained.
Since his childhood, Rayyan has never been attracted gender wise for his friendship. His friends are boys, girls, men, women, children and animals. It always depended on that particular situation, place, and the living being with whom he would bond. Among his share of friendships, there have been some great ones with girls as well. Some have continued to be long distance ones, and others close to home.
Sometimes, I have been surprised by the trust his friends show in him and also the special and pure bonding they share. When we shifted to Byndoor, Rayyan had found a good friend in our neighbourhood. They both would chat for hours without getting bored. They played, partied and had had great time together. His friend was a bit elder to him and was also very protective of Rayyan. One day, she had watched the movie of Hritik Roshan’s Kaho naa pyaar hai and was excited to narrate its story to him. When I left him to hear the story she had just started with the first scene. When I entered the scene three hours later, he was listening with same interest and she was narrating it equally excited to the last scene. “How the narration of the story is longer than the movie?” I asked laughing, and she replied innocently, “Few scenes which he cannot see has to be described, right? So it took a bit extra time”. Their friendship was one of the most selfless, trusting and beautiful one I have ever come across. Even when she wanted to click some good pictures for her fiancĂ©, she trusted Rayyan more than me. When asked why Rayyan and not me, she replied, “I am shy in front of you”. OK. That sent in a lot of messages to me and also reminded me how insecure I felt around boys as a teenager. I was happy that I had brought up my boy in a way that girls trusted him more than his mom. In a small Indian town, it was difficult to believe such friendship existed.
I am very sure that no girl has ever felt threatened or unsafe with Rayyan, even if they are alone with him. Rayyan has always looked at people as persons without taking into account their age, gender, color, status or anything for that matter. I have been amazed with friendships so far.
When I tag him to my cancer support meets, he bonds well with my friend Uma Pai and she looks forward to meet him as well. Diane was another person, who bonded with Rayyan ignoring cultural and age barriers. Jay and Paula were friends but then became more like a family to him.
When I asked him when he will introduce me someone where the space will not exist between the girl and friend, he answers calmly, that it will happen when it has to happen. I am a bit restless, but Rayyan seems calm and patient. I know that he doesn’t believe that the sole purpose of a girl is to find a husband and marry so the sole purpose of the guy should not be to look at a girl for the purpose of marriage or for a serious relationship. He says that the world would be much better place if girls or women were treated like any other person. When I think back about my teen years and how even small gestures, looks or words would make me feel uncomfortable, I realized how much such a view from a guy is welcome in our world. This is how I learned to respect Rayyan more than I love him.
So, for him the relationships do not point towards love like the one we see in movies. I am not sure if this is what they say about the ‘good guys being friendzoned’ because the only difference I see here is that the choice is made by Rayyan to be there until everything falls in right place. I keep looking but I know I have wait for him to find his soul mate who will be on the same plane of thoughts like him. I am sure there is someone right for him somewhere in the world. I just want him to show some interest in looking …..

Very comfortable with my cancer survivor friends.................. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 40

The Surprise Birthday Party

Farheena’s birthday in 2008 was celebrated in USA. We planned a nice pool side party for her and enjoyed a lot. Unfortunately the decorations and party left a lot of confetti and papers in and around the pool to be cleaned up. Rayyan stepped in to help us clean after the party. Off course, he did all the work with us pitching in tiny help here and there.
Jay was not very happy that Rayyan gets major share of the work while rest of us get major share of fun. This was not the first time Jay decided to defend Rayyan even when he was not under attack from anyone. Somehow, he felt things were not fair. Farheena, off course enjoyed all the attention and gifts like usually does on her birthday. With pressure from Jay, we decided to give Rayyan an early birthday party, because by August 20th, he would be back in India. Surprising Rayyan was not difficult, because he doesn’t ask many questions.
So we planned another pool side birthday party and few close friends joined us to have fun. Rayyan like usual helped us get everything ready for the party, other than the cake which was kept hidden from him. We had some games and then everyone, including Rayyan gathered around for the birthday party. Farheena was also not told whose birthday it was going to be, so she was curious as well. The cake was placed and we all started to sing “Happy birthday to you” when the time for the name to be mentioned, Rayyan looked around to catch whose birthday it was when he heard all singing his name. His face was something I can never forget…… when he finally realized the party was for him. Soon he saw the name on the cake and also the yellow toy car Jay had picked for him knowing his choice. He was a bit overwhelmed to give a proper response for quite a while. We enjoyed the party and I can say this is one of the greatest birthday party Rayyan enjoyed with a family that was connected through love. And for the real surprise he had, it was worth all the effort.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 39

Life Happens and Rayyan Enjoys It

When Rayyan was busy with his project with Chimple, a company he was proud to be a part of; we had to visit my aunt who was not feeling well and lived in Bangarpet. Rayyan had some important submission to complete and he couldn’t join us. Unfortunately I forgot to hand a spare key of our home to him, which I remembered very late. We were already more than half way to the town.
I informed Rayyan about the situation and he was OK with it. We tried getting home fast, but it always gets late when you meet your relatives after a long time. By the time we reached home, it was almost 1 a.m. and I assumed Rayyan must have gone to one of his friend’s home. When I connected with him to let him know that we were reaching in half an hour and he could come home or stay at his friends place, he said he was already home and waiting for us.
I was a bit disturbed because it was cold and raining in Bangalore and he had missed his dinner as well. But my mind was also working on a conspiracy at the same time. For once I will get to see an upset and angry Rayyan and I will take some pictures of him so that I can have proof that he can give in to emotions as well. Whenever someone would use him an example for their children, I could show these pics and tell them the story how he responded when we deserted him without a key to our home.
So I eagerly look for him in the parking, and I cannot find him. It was raining quite heavily and our terrace had no shelter. So where was he? I climb up the stairs and see something…. And the superman drama unfolds. Is it is dog? Is it a wild animal? Oh, it is flying, is it a huge bird… no look it is Rayyan. In his dark clothes, on the terrace, jumping and enjoying the cold rain lashing at him, it was difficult to identify Rayyan until the lightning flashed. When I was about to say sorry for forgetting to hand the spare key to him, he said, “Sorry maa, I forgot to take the spare key from you today morning because I was in a rush to get to office”. Immediately my hand rushes to hold my jaw dropping down. I do not make a fuss about me being at fault and ask normally, “why did you come home? You could have gone to your friend’s place” I try to accuse him to see how he will respond. He calmly informed me that they were away. All the while he is enjoying the rain as well.
The next day, I was discussing the incident with my friend Parvathi in Giggle Garden who explained to me how lucky I was to have a son like Rayyan. “At 26, youngsters cannot tolerate such things. They usually go wild and I am sure if anyone else in Rayyan’s place would have broken the door and got in”. At that time I recalled many such incidents with Rayyan, where he had shown extreme patience and had been with peace where many would be flying in rage. I know he gets bored with the wait as well, but his response is never expressed through frustration, anger, agitation or rudeness. It is peaceful, always. It surprises me that he can maintain the patience and peace for so long.
Even though for us it may look amazing, for Rayyan this is normal behaviour and he is surprised why people get angry for trivial issues… only if he knew the battles we fight to keep that raging anger under control! Sigh.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 38

Developing Immunity In Nature’s Lap

Our joy was boundless when Rayyan, my first born came into our lives. By ours I mean my whole family, not just the parents. His father was away at the time of his birth, but my own family made it up to him and me. The last time there was a baby at home was more than 15 years ago when my youngest sister was born. Rayyan was treated like a prized, delicate and loved child who needed protection from the harsh world. Every time he wet himself, pooped or cried for milk, I could see chaos around me with nearly 2-3 people rushing to set things right for him. I remember how everyone went overboard with his care other than me. To be honest I was kind of getting irritated by the fuss being made over the baby. But the big army of 2 aunts, 1 uncle, grandma and grandpa overwhelmed and smothered me to do as they wished. Finally what counted was that they loved him more than anything else in whole world.  What more can a Mom ask for? So I stopped fighting and surrendered. 
Rayyan had low resistance to diseases. Any change in routine would make him feverish, get cough and cold or give him diarrhoea. He was slow in gaining weight. My family took it upon themselves to protect him from the germs and bacteria which lay in wait to get him. So he did not get to play much outdoor games, eat street food or play in dirty water. I knew this was wrong, but then there was nothing much I could do. No one bothered to take my advice. Leave alone his drinking water, even the water he bathed was boiled and cooled. Every time he went out, one of my family members would escort him. He spent long hours playing with Lego toys, watching cartoons or painting. Though he loved cycling, he was never given the freedom to go out all alone. He had to go circles around our home even as someone kept an eye on him from terrace.

It was quite tough for me to deal with this situation as I firmly believe in keeping children close to nature which will give a boost to their immunity. The more we protect our children, the weaker their body will be to fight invading diseases. It was also important that Rayyan be given his own space and independence. To make up for his smothered life I used to take Rayyan for long walks in the evenings or occasionally in the morning. I also allowed him to play in rain. When Farheena entered our lives 4 years later, she became a part of the walks where the children were allowed to touch and feel nature.
Initially I thought the fuss my family made would be over once there is another child at home or when he grows up a bit. How wrong was I? Farheena’s entry into our lives had no effect on my family. As days passed and Rayyan was nearly 10, he was still treated like a baby and not allowed any independence.
When I was confused about the upbringing of my children, there was a turning point in my life where I had to take a major decision. I had two choices in front of me. Stay in Bangalore and live with my family to adjust my lifestyle to their choices, or move out and go to my native village Byndoor to lead an independent life. As I sat pondering over what step to take, Rayyan was watching television, an activity which kept his boredom away. I wanted to know how many cartoons he could watch if left undisturbed. When the third cartoon started without Rayyan moving from his seat, I made my decision. It was quite tough decision to make but I finally broke free from the bondages of my family. Both my children were very close to all my family members and I was sure that they would miss them. But then it was high time that I took control of my own life and made my own decisions.

So off we went to the coastal village to live a life close to nature. After his first day in school, Rayyan could not stop talking about how active and strong the children in his school were. These were the children who played in fields, swam the rivers and ate fresh food. There were much stronger than the children I had seen in Rayyan’s previous school. 

Without much physical activities, Rayyan looked so small compared to his classmates. I assured Rayyan that with proper physical activities and freedom to roam in the nature, he would catch up with his peers.
To make my children more active physically and mentally, I got rid of the TV. They could have fun on computer but TV was a big no. Both the children spending nearly 5 hours in front of the idiot box was not acceptable to me. I knew we would miss it for a few days but then would get adjusted to the life without TV. Don’t jump to conclusion and call me cruel person. If you think life was dull and boring in Byndoor for my children, you are in for a surprise. Our days were filled with fun, adventures, games and weekly visits to the beach. To make it more entertaining, I gathered a group of children from my neighbourhood to join us on picnics, games and parties.

From being a protected child, Rayyan blossomed to be the responsible person. He started helping me in housework and shopping.  I had to be prepared for the chicks, kitten or fish Rayyan would bring back to keep as pet. In his new found freedom, Rayyan started exploring the town and its surroundings early in the morning on his cycle. His immunity started improving and I could see the change in him. Earlier, every year he had to miss some monthly tests or exams due to his illness. Now he was maintaining 100% attendance in his school and setting record for perfect attendance which he missed when we went for my Mom’s treatment. My mom regretted that quite a lot.
Though initially Rayyan was accompanying me for his outings, he slowly weaned off and started to find a group of children who could join him on long hikes to the nearby mountains and to swim in the sea. 

Finally he started wandering off alone at times on his cycle because there were not many children who could match his stamina and enthusiasm for long rides. His stamina was building up so much that he could beat most of the experienced swimmers at the local pond.
He started raising chickens but unfortunately they were not food for him but friends. Soon even I fell in love with his chicks. He became so lively and enthusiastic in the company of the animals.

 The dirty water, exposure to germs or eating street food occasionally did not make Rayyan sick or weak as my family feared. His outdoor life made him strong and his healthy body could resist diseases on its own. I cannot recall when I have last taken Rayyan to a doctor for medication and he is the same child who used to be sick for nearly 100 days every year apart from a recent infection he had due to dust on roads.
  My own experience tells me that children develop immunity only when we allow them to grow in natures lap. The fresh air, organic food and exercise are required to build a strong immune system. A lazy child who spends time in front of TV; gorging on chips and soft drinks can never have strong immunity.
Today, back in Bangalore, we do own a TV but my children are not interested in getting the cable connection. We watch selected program through internet TV. Rayyan has joined various cycling groups and events taking place around Bangalore. He is the only fit and healthy member of our family who has kept his weight under control and also he does not need any pills or syrups to keep diseases away.

 Rayyan did not change his lifestyle after leaving Byndoor. He travelled to his college, work and everywhere around Bangalore on his Bicycle until I forced to buy a bike as well, yet he uses his cycle often. He also managed to survive the endurance ride to Mysore. It keeps him healthy and fit, moreover he is doing well to both the environment and my purse earlier and now his bank balance.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 37

 The Tribal Man-eater

 There was fancy dress competition in Rayyan’s school. I have always given a choice to Rayyan about whether he wants to do something or not, because he was shy child and did not enjoy attention much. The only condition was, that if he agreed to do something, he could not back off. Rayyan said he wanted to participate in the fancy dress competition.
I gave him a list of characters from which he could pick up one, so that I could make preparations. The list included Batman as well, which Rayyan is going to regret now; though back then, he thought it was scary and rejected it at first sight. Finally, he decided he wanted to be and man-eating tribal man. That was way too easy. I told him that we are not buying anything because that way the competition isn’t about fancy dress but about who bought the best dress. So, I advised him to be like a tribal man and not depend much on the dress itself.
We picked up a coconut leaf and few cardboard sheets laying around home and started working on it. The crown was made of leaves of another plant and skirt by the coconut palm leaves. We had some body paint at home as well, which was used to paint his face and skull on the chest. It took us less than 3 hours to get everything ready. We all enjoyed the preparation a lot.
The plant that became his crown
When we entered the place where the competition was being held, I lost hope of Rayyan winning the competition, because there was a perfect Raja, Hanuman, peacock and many other characters who were quite too perfect. I asked one parent how much did the dress cost, and she replied they all hire it, and not buy or get it ready. 

That was something not acceptable to me because for me fancy dress meant getting it ready with the child, talking to them about what they are representing and enjoying the activity. Even to this day, I tell the same to the parents of our Gigglers as well.
Even though I was a bit worried that my ideal may cost Rayyan his competition prize, Rayyan was unfazed and was enjoying the function of his school. Another worry for me was that Rayyan may refuse to go on stage at the last moment developing nervousness. I was lost in my thoughts when Rayyan’s name was called. He walked up to the stage normally, but then he transformed as he climbed up. His gait changed and he walked like a tribal making sounds “oooh aaaahhh ooohhh aaahhh yeeeahhaaahhhh” and thumped his chest. I couldn’t believe it. This child who was shy and I was afraid that he wouldn’t even go on the stage, was turned into a complete man-eating tribal hungry for food. The applause was loud for him.
Another surprise awaited me when the prizes were announced. Rayyan won the first prize. His Headmistress later told me she appreciated the way he performed the character and put life into it and also that I had not spent on hiring or buying materials but creating it. She said, she was tired of seeing the same old characters over and over again and this was a relief from the monotony.  I was glad that my ideals were intact and it not hurt Rayyan.
As my family were very happy about Rayyan winning and couldn’t stop talking about it, Rayyan told me after a week or so, “Maa, why do people like winning so much? I actually do not feel any different about being either first or last. I really enjoy the activity and not the competition where one person is happy but all the rest are sad”.  It was too heavy to come from a child his age. Honestly, I had never thought that way, because for me winning meant everything. I have tried to change since Rayyan’s theory was put forward, but I haven’t changed much. As for Rayyan, he still continues to believe the same and hasn’t changed much either. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 36

When I summoned The Mother Of All Patience

Rayyan has a tiny request for me regarding his posts. He wants me to share all his negative stories along with the positive ones. I need help from everyone who knows Rayyan to share with me any negative or evil stories they know of Rayyan because I am honestly unable to recall anything much.
Rayyan’s and Farheena’s first flight experience was from Mumbai to New York. Naturally Rayyan was excited and he wanted to know every do and don’ts on the way. I gave him a checklist of what he can do and what he cannot. One of them was about not using the SIM during the taking off and landing of flights.
We travelled to Mumbai via train and then got on the flight. 
We would be landing in Dubai and would be connected to different flight from there. As we boarded the plane, Rayyan was very excited about clicking pictures of almost everything. The flight, the food, the airport and many others but not the people. Somehow, people never attract his attention. Sigh!
When the plane was ready for take-off, the Air-hostess politely reminded him to switch off his mobile. Rayyan remembered the check-list and followed by advice literally that he will not use the SIM. So, instead of putting the mobile on the flight mode, he removed the SIM chip and placed on the rack in front of him and remained in awe of the airport, plane taking off and his new experience. The food was served. Farheena started throwing up everything and I had tough time dealing with her. We finished our dinner and the dishes were taken off by the grumbling staff who were upset that Farheena had thrown up, though I managed to contain it well. Some of the vomit had directly landed in the bowl and they treated that bowl like Nuke.
Finally we settled down and I hear a meek “Maa” from Rayyan. I wonder what happened to this guy, because he sounded like a lamb in distress. I throw him the ‘?’ look and he says, “I had removed the SIM from the mobile and looks like it went with the dishes. I cannot find it anywhere”. “And, why did you remove the SIM in the first place?” I ask, anger surging through me. He honestly answered, “I following your advice maa. You asked me not to use the SIM. If it is in mobile it is used when the mobile is used, so I removed it”.

I was a bit panicky at this because I had no way to get in touch with Paula who was supposed to pick us up in Tampa airport. I had no clue how to get to her home. I was angry but got control over myself before I said anything and summoned the mother of all patience to hold myself back from saying anything that would hurt Rayyan. I told myself, “Calm down Farida. He is excited and nervous with his new experience. Please do not spoil the memories of his first flight by being angry or scolding him”, and believe me I said, “Let me see what I can do about this”.
I tried contacting the crew and requesting them to find the SIM and they gave me a “You are Crazy woman” look. I decided to calm down and do whatever I had to do when the time comes. We finally landed in Tampa and I was quite worried as to what to do now. I knew it would terrify the kids if they knew I was worried, so I had to be the jolly mom on tour of USA and that I was.

Once in Tampa we just went with the person who pushed Farheena’s wheel chair and he left us near the airport door where people were picking up their friends or relatives and asked for a tip of 3$ . I had some change with me and so paid him and he went away. This is when the feeling of being lost in an unknown land came over me. Now I had no connection with anyone. We waited there for 20 minutes or so and then Rayyan suggested for me to get inside and look for Paula as we were sure she would not be late to come to the airport. She must have gone in to search for us. So, after ensuring that Rayyan and Farheena would not wander anywhere or go with anyone, I went looking for her. It was getting late and the airport wore a deserted look. A lady was sweeping the floor and I asked her how to use the telephone which looked tricky to me. Luckily this was the time when my good memory was a boon because I could recollect Paula’s number. I asked for change but she paid for the call and told me it is OK. I think she realized there was a messy situation with me and I was new to the place. But the call from the payphone wouldn’t connect. She gave me her mobile and asked me to call again. I got connected to Paula, and she wanted to know where the hell I was. As I was talking to Paula and explaining the hell with its description which included the cleaning lady,  I was surprised to hear her voice so clear. I was amazed how different phones are in USA as I could hear her as though she was talking to me standing right there in front of me, but in front of me was a woman wearing purple dress talking in her phone. As I was talking to Paula I could see the woman’s lips move to the words being said in the phone and I realized I was hearing Paula directly and not over the phone. I told the woman who was cleaning that may be I had found my friend as I think it is the woman talking into the phone right there in front of me was actually the person talking to me over the phone and handed over the phone to her. She threw an amusing smile at me and said, “If that is your friend, then you better find her because she has looked past you four times and I don’t think she is ever going to find you”. So I shouted “Pee, here I am”. The rest you can watch on the video. Rayyan got away way too easily for the mess he created. Looks like a negative post about him, right?
The placard Paula was supposed to hold to greet us was brought out after she met us. It did not serve the purpose it was meant for, but was beautiful...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 35

The Last Photo

My dad was not expressive about his emotions. He was very rational person and never knew how to use words to his benefits. In fact, he would usually say something out of place to embarrass us. I don’t remember him expressing his love in words, until Rayyan was born.
With Rayyan, I saw a completely new personality of my dad. Being very stoic and non-expressive person throughout his life, he suddenly felt like being a very loving person towards his grandson. He was torn between his new personality and an image he had maintained so far. Finally the grandfather lost to the other guy. He was always busy working from morning till night, purchasing products for Joy Ice Creams and his work was his life. Fortunately, as he retired and was at loss as to what to do, he found Rayyan to chase away his boredom.
We were shocked to see him stand by and watch my mom wash Rayyan’s cotton diapers and clothes to point out if she missed a spot. Then he would dry them out carefully and secure them with clothespin. He would watch out that no birds would dirty them. Once they dried up, he would iron them all neatly; yes, that included the diaper clothes. He would put them neatly in the designated basket for use.
We were rarely carried and pampered by him, but Rayyan and later Farheena both got the luxury of outing being carried or pushed in a pram by him. I feel his love for Farheena went a notch above of that he had for Rayyan.
Rayyan called him “Bappa” and would usually want his grandpa to pick him up. When my dad went through cancer treatment and lost his hair, Rayyan, who was nearly a year and half, started calling him naana, and would not agree that Bappa and Naana were same, though he agreed that he loved both of them the same.
When Rayyan went to school, he did not have heart to leave him behind and sat there until his classes were over for a whole month. I pleaded with him not to do it, but he was stubborn. He wanted to be sure that no one would bully or trouble his grandson and would choose a spot from where Rayyan was visible to him but not to near so that Rayyan wouldn’t notice him.
When Rayyan was going to school in Byndoor I did not use laundry blue for his uniform shirts. My dad when he came visiting us was shocked that his grandson was wearing such an unkempt shirt and immediately he sat down to wash his shirts. He scrubbed it sparkling clean with soap and finished by bluing his shirts in right proportion and finally ironed them neatly. I have to agree he put me to shame with his meticulous job.
He usually purchased fresh fruits for Rayyan and would declare to the shop keeper, “This is for baby, please do not give me stale fruits”. I can still recall his exact words and the earnest way he would say that. He would also buy vanilla ice cream cup for Rayyan and would request for fresh cup.
Once a very healthy and fit person, my dad slowly fell victim to cancer, accident that damaged his hips and a delayed replacement surgery that made him dependent. It was a torment to watch him suffer without being able to move around much.
Slowly he became cranky, especially after my mom passed away. At that time, though we all loved him, it was not easy to deal with his constant demands and nagging which would continue for quite some time. He would have a list of tasks for Rayyan when he came back school. He would not wait until he finished one thing to demand the next …. This would irritate my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) who would ask him to give the poor child a break. Rayyan would calmly pacify her and say, “It is OK aunty. He has done a lot more for me earlier. He is frustrated and angry not being to do all the work himself. Let him repeat what he wants … it is not a big deal”. He would calmly finish whatever his grandfather asked him to do. He would also sit and listen to his stories of past which meant a lot to my dad. My dad would want to know few updates about the happening in the village and Rayyan would narrate it to him. It was a special feeling to see the person who gave me life sharing companionship with a child I gave birth to.
The strongest thing that pulled us hard to come back to India from USA was my dad, who we wanted to be with in his last days. My dad had another fall and changed quite a lot by the time we came back. There was some mess up of diagnosis after his fall and he was completely bedridden. He slowly recovered a bit more after we came back and he underwent another surgery. We bid him a final goodbye on 9/9/2009.
My dad never posed for photographs and it was with great difficulty that we would get his pictures. During his last years he completely refused to be photographed at all, other than one time when he wanted a picture with his grandson. Rayyan was wearing a white blazer and my dad was overjoyed to see his grandson all dressed up. I was so taken aback when he requested me to click his picture with Rayyan. This was his last photograph, but it reminds me of how much he admired and loved Rayyan. There are lot of stories of Rayyan with his grandpa, but that is for another day…….

Saturday, June 15, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 34

Another Mouse Tale

When I shifted to Bangalore after Rayyan’s PG experience, Rayyan had an independent room for himself for the first time. He was very busy working on his projects and drawing, so I left him alone without bothering him much.
Usually moms are scared to surprise teen children on laptop for the fear of catching them watching porn, which has never been my problem. I can say that I have never caught Rayyan watching porn so I am always free to enter his room anytime I want. Often I get to see animated movies or batman comics on his laptop. I do not knock on his door, because Rayyan rarely closes his room door. He was almost completing his animation course in Arena and was working hard, even ignoring his food at times. So I would often go there to give him a glass of milk or juice. Imagine my shock when I entered his room one day to see a mouse near his head on the curtain. It was climbing up and down as though it owned the curtain. I shrieked and scared Rayyan.
“What is it Maa?” he asked. I said in a panicky tone, “Move fast, there is a mouse near your head on the curtain”. I could see that Rayyan found this very amusing. He laughed out and asked, “So, what will that poor mouse do to me?” Just a year ago, a huge rat had got into his cupboard and nibbled many of his precious clothes. Instead of killing it, Rayyan had forced us to chase it out. Jerry had chewed a lot of wires and things, yet he was asking this question again. As I think over this I realize something else as well, “Do you know there was a mouse on that curtain?” I ask worried, “Yes Maa, I know it is there. It usually crawls up and down there and lives on my window. It is not troublesome at all”. I am kind of shocked and also fear for his sanity. May be too much of hard work has hurt his mental condition I think, but I stand there without much expression so that I can hear more about what is going on.  I get to know that there was this tiny baby mouse on the window and Rayyan left it alone there for quite some time now. Slowly, it became familiar with him and moved around freely. He occasionally gave it some bit of food as well. I say in a firm tone, as firm as I can manage because I see where this is going, “Rodents are pests Rayyan. You cannot have them in your room. They cause diseases and make the place dirty. Get rid of it now”. “No maa, look the window is not dirty at all. It is all clean. Moreover it doesn’t stay here all the time”. I check the window and find it clean and no trace of mouse shit or anything on the window or the curtain. After few more half-hearted words and sentences I leave him alone.
In a month Rayyan finished his animation course and he went to Dubai with my brother’s family for 40 days before taking up a job. Surprisingly he never told me not to trouble or feed the mouse. Since his room was open, the mouse was free to roam in and out of the house. It was not like a pet or something, but just loved that curtain or that is what I felt.
On the fourth day, my sister’s youngest son visited me. I found him shrieking in fear and saw that the mouse had ran out of the room and was going around him. I calmed him down, and soon it disappeared. Few days later it was out again near the delivery boy’s leg. It kind of looked like it was searching for Rayyan. I did not want to think like that because I couldn’t believe this and if it was not happening right in front of me, there was no way I would believe it ever. Later I realized that it comes out at the sight of jeans because I saw it near the jeans I had brought in after wash.
At that time, I was studying with Rama Mylapore who was my classmate. As we were discussing something I told her about the mouse. She wouldn’t believe it either and I felt so silly narrating this to her. After few days, she visited me to discuss few notes and papers we were working on. As she sat on the sofa, out came the mouse and started looking at her. She shrieked and had her legs up the sofa and was damn scared for sure. I realized what had happened because this had become a normal thing since Rayyan left, and Rama was wearing jeans. I told her, this was the mouse I was talking about and she need not be scared. It will go away once it realizes that she not the person it is looking for. By the time I finished my sentence, the mouse had disappeared again. She was in awe of what she had seen and said, “You are blessed to have Rayyan as your son. This is like Ganesha’s blessing for me”. The whole thing had shaken her quite a lot.
That was the last time I had seen the mouse. It was around for nearly a month after Rayyan left but then just vanished. I told Rayyan about his mouse leaving home and he said “OK”. That’s all? No asking questions, no regrets, not being proud of earning its affection? Nothing? I was confused again as I am always with Rayyan’s responses to situations. His love for animals is quite unique and different where he connects with them but never wants them to be with him forever.

Friday, June 14, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 33

Just Jerry

I was planning on playing carom with some of my students on Sunday. As I went near the carom board, I saw a mouse biting at the nets of the board. EEEEKKKKK … I ran out to bring a broom or something to shoo it away. As I was searching for the broom to chase away that ugly rodent, I hear Rayyan shout, “ooohhhhh Maaaaa please come fast”. I rush in with broom in hand to see what else that pest had damaged and see a gleeful smiling face that is overjoyed. Yeah that face belonged to Rayyan. “Look Maa, Jerry is here”. The mouse who had hidden behind the carom board when it saw me had come out and was looking at Rayyan without fear. He even managed to click few pictures of it as well. Once he called it Jerry, somehow that tiny animal did not look ugly or evil to me. I am not sure what kind of psychology was working there. It could either be Rayyan planning to win me over by calling it Jerry or I may be have fallen under pressure to not come out as a villain in front of my son. The broom was not used to shoo away the mouse but we gave it few bread crumbs and later cleaned up after the mouse with the broom.
Rayyan doesn’t show much affection to animals and never tries to keep them as pets, but he subtly develops a connection with them. It was the same with this mouse. It started coming in to our room often, but was not troublesome. I had to keep this a secret from others so that they would not laugh at me or assume Rayyan was crazy.
In fact I started to ignore it completely so that I would never be summoned in to acknowledge that I was a part of this drama as well.
After a few months we had to leave for USA. We secured our room before leaving. When we came back, to my horror I found that Jerry had nibbled through the defence and entered our room. Not finding his usual companions the bored Jerry had nibbled a lot of things among which was our computer as well. No computer, no internet! I was very upset with Rayyan because if I had shooed away the mouse back on the day, I did not have to face this problem. Repairing computer in the village was very difficult.
Rayyan was calm his usual way. Not scared of being bonked on head, nor frantic that he cannot get online immediately. “Maa a mouse did what he does naturally. So, why are we so upset with it? It would not do it if it knew that we humans would suffer the consequences of its nibbling. It is not like people cutting trees and destroying earth despite knowing the consequences. Let us forgive it Maa”.
I don’t usually argue on such issues with Rayyan, because somehow I realized when he was tiny 4-5 year old that I cannot win arguments with him. The reason could be, he feels what he speaks of and it is not a knowledge based debate. Also, he has been one of the rare person who can shut me up. That doesn’t mean I am not angry or agree with him completely, though sometimes much later what he said makes sense to me.
Thankfully Jerry was not shameless like Rayyan and did not justify what he did. He never showed me his face ever again!
But the drama, “oooohhhhhh maa please come fast” goes on even now. It could be a beautiful butterfly, an ugly bug, rain, clouds, moon, spider, squirrel, a flower which I have seen hundred times, a wiggly worm, ant, or anything which really becomes an important character for Rayyan.
Tomorrow you will hear about another story with another mouse……
Below Pics of what I have rushed to see and Jerry who left Tom behind.


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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