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.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 32

Proud For The Right Reason

I trust my son without a single strand of doubt bothering me ever. How did I develop such trust in my boy? It goes to the school days when he was in First standard. When I sent him school, I had told him few guidelines he has follow before he begins to learn and score marks in tests or exams.
1.       Do not lie
2.       Do not cheat
3.       Do not trouble your friends
4.       Don’t call anyone by nickname even if others do
5.       Do not take things that belong to others
6.       Respect everyone
7.       Write what you know
8.       Follow school rules
9.       Be nice to all, especially the lesser gifted children
10.   Be regular with your work
These were the few morals along with other similar ones which I would tell him to follow. Scoring marks or topping the class did not matter much to me because not all children are made to stand first in the class. If he had it in him he would do it on his own. I had made it my priority during my school days and I feel at present that doesn’t help me much. But the good behavior and principles can be adopted by every child and will stand with you always.
On most of the days we would walk to school and on way he would ask me questions I would answer him patiently no matter what topic he picked up.
I am not sure whether it is the morals we taught him, or it was something absolutely good inside Rayyan that he turned out to be a gem of person. There is not a single person he has come to know who can tell that he has hurt them in any way or said hurtful things to them. In every school and college he attended, though not the topper, he was loved by his teachers for his good behavior and respect he showed for them.
Some incidences stand out in my memory and makes me feel proud as a mom.
Once Rayyan was down with fever and could not attend class for few days. The monthly test was round the corner. The tired boy could not study much but I let him write the test. I told him not to bother about the marks. The class teacher who saw the tired child, who was her pet in the class, decided to help a bit. She told him the answers and spellings of the “Fill in the blanks”. I still remember the fill in the blanks as well. Bharat is also known as …………………… . Rayyan was struggling with the spelling of Hindustan. To her amazement Rayyan refused to write what she told him and told her that he will write what he knows because his Mom had told him to do so. He said she had assured him that marks do not matter much. The teacher was both shocked and impressed at the same time.
I was summoned to the school the next day. The teacher told me exactly what happened and how much she felt touched by not only Rayyan’s honesty but his trust in his mother’s words. She was worried that it would be difficult for the child to compete and survive in the world that did not follow those morals or principles anymore. She asked me to make him a bit of rough and tough for his own good. I felt proud of my child and it was really touching that his teacher had tears in her eyes when she was talking to me. Rayyan has always been a tiny child in the class and looked very vulnerable which made everyone go soft on him. Also they knew that his mom was going through cancer and sister was with special needs. The teachers were genuinely concerned about him. I could understand her concern because there was some truth in what she said. I also realized that children need to be assured that you will accept them for what they are, so that they will not be under pressure to reach the goal by hook or crook methods. This single incident had taught me more lessons about bringing up a child than hundreds of books I read on parenting. Rayyan could not pass the monthly test that term, but I knew my boy had done the right thing. For me he was the winner.
For the trust Rayyan placed in my words, I promised myself that I am going to accept him for whatever he is forever in my life without forcing him live my dreams for me. 22 years down the lane, I have kept that promise. It has also helped me in accepting my special needs daughter for what she is. With acceptance of our children for what they are comes a great joy of parenthood.
Rayyan followed the rules of school and respected his teachers throughout his school days. I have already narrated the incident of him in TEMS where his administrator spotted him for his habit of holding hands behind his back in corridors. Though Rayyan was mildly dyslexic and had trouble with his languages and spellings, he was always loved by his teachers for what he was.
Today, a young man of 27, Rayyan still follows the rules. He has found his career in animation and has been doing great with his new found passion. The short movies, his comics and other work reflect his personality and his way of life. Honesty, Kindness, Compassion, Respect and Integrity have blended into his everyday life naturally without any extra effort from his side. In fact I feel Rayyan will have to struggle and work hard to do something illegal, wrong, or whatever breaks a rule but those are moral, social and responsible rules and not those of superstitious or religious kind. It is like almost impossible, because I haven’t seen him do it ever.
He has been a blessing in life as without him it would have been tough to manage my special needs daughter and also my own cancer. He is my proud achievement and Medal of Honor!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 31

Do Looks Matter?

Rayyan has exchanged his mobile phones when their hardware started failing. Both the times, the people who came to collect the old phone were confused it to be new mobile. Rayyan keeps his phone in quite good condition with no physical damage. Recently he was hesitant to remove screen guard from his mobile and I was pissed off... "You have put million scars on your face and now worry about this phone? Huh?" I admonished him. He jokes, "I have to see my phone all the day but I see my face very rarely and that too as a mirror image...." I assume that is a joke because that is the only way I can calm myself.
This brings back the memories of my struggle with pimples.
I haven’t dealt with pimples or acnes in my life.  It is funny when I think of it -my life is rough but my skin isn’t.  It was not until Rayyan entered standard 10th did I come face to face with pimples, literally. Initially, there were tiny buds on his forehead and cheek. They would come and go away on their own. Neither was Rayyan bothered by them, nor did I give it a second thought. After all, only the burnt child dreads the fire.
It could be the stress of being in 10th, or just the age factor, either way; soon the pimples were running amok on Rayyan’s smooth face which was not smooth anymore. We went for all the anti-pimples cream, natural remedies and even a prescription from a dermatologist; unfortunately the pimples continued their assault on his face. Though they say every mother finds her baby beautiful, I recall not wanting to look at him even when he was talking to me with those pimples teasing me.
Surprisingly, Rayyan like always was unfettered or untroubled – even by the ugly pimples on his face. He was not even bothered with finding some way of getting rid of them, whereas I was quite disturbed by those pimples. Finally, I suggested him to wash his face often, especially with a deep cleansing face wash which could remove grime and dirt from his skin. This worked to some extent. The dramatic change was seen when he started swimming in sea more often. Later on, Rayyan continued to wash his face as often as possible to keep pimples at bay. So everyone lived happily ever after? Oh no! This is not a fairy tale. This is life!
When the pimples were on back foot, we planned to visit USA.  For some reason, we never gave a thought to the face wash when we left. Within a couple of weeks, the pimples came back with a vengeance. We rushed to the Wal-Mart to find a good face wash for Rayyan, but unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for. The face wash we found there were very mild and was not effective. My friend Paula informed us that safety norms in USA were much higher than in India, so the facewash we found there could never be strong enough for Rayyan, especially because of the facewash he was used to in India.  Among all the chaos created by me and my friend Paula frantically trying to control the pimples,  Rayyan went about enjoying his life as though nothing had happened.
His calm started to bother me. Finally, I and Paula planned a 'no sweet, no ice-cream, no chocolate, no cream' diet for him and sat him down for the talk. We wanted to explain to him how he should take care of his pimples to protect his face from scarring. He shouldn't be neglecting pimples like he was doing. Rayyan refused to follow any diet or be worried about his pimples. He said, “They are not going to do anything much until I decide to become sad and worried because of them. Usually pimples go away after sometime and I have to learn to deal with them until then”.  We take it as a challenge to convince him, "People will look down upon you and dislike you with those pimples on your face". Rayyan is not scared and questions us back, "Do you?" Not to give up so easily, we tried explaining to him about girls, but he cut us short and said, “Isn't it surprising that you two women are worried about my pimples when you have fought cancer and won over it. You have undergone surgeries and stood strong.How can you expect me to be in your company and worry about pimples”? FACEPALM!
We left him alone after that, but also realized how much of wisdom he had picked from people around him though we had not learned much from our experiences. We both were so proud of our boy. Rayyan enjoyed his visit to our friends in USA without even giving a thought to the pimples.
When he came back to India, he found a face wash that could keep his pimples at bay once again. As he crossed the 21 year mark, the pimples started to fade as well. Today, occasionally a pimple here or a pimple there erupts on his face. But like always, Rayyan doesn't give them a hoot while I try to get the pimples all the attention they deserve. He just maintains his skin clean and let that work the best for him.
Rayyan lives by the principle of Eric Davis who said, “Life is too short to worry about anything. You had better enjoy it because the next day promises nothing”.
I have learned so much from this young man who I am so proud to call my son. What best lesson can we learn other than to be happy by making the best of what we have without breaking our heads over tiny troubles that are part and parcel of our life?
PS The pics below are shared because they are relevant to this post with no intention of exposing and embarassing the pimple laden face.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 30

Running Up Rocky Steps

“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.” No prizes for guessing who said that.
I and Rayyan share a lot of interests and hobbies, which makes life interesting for us. We enjoyed competing with each other in video games like Mortal Combat, Most Wanted or Test Drive which made our stay in Byndoor exciting. There we had lot of free time to enjoy movies, picnics, games and parties. Now, we barely get to see each other.  There are certain games Rayyan win hands down and some I do, but often we do have good competition between us as well. The same goes with our love for beach, organizing game parties, watching TV serials and many other activities we enjoy together.
Surprisingly, we also ended up being great fans of Batman independently. Though I loved Batman comics, I never introduced them to Rayyan, but later I realized he loves animated movies of Batman quite a lot.
I used to download some movies I had enjoyed before Rayyan was born so that I could share the experience once again with him. We loved watching some movies, but few were so bad that I wondered how I had enjoyed watching them so much in the first place, because I was sure they impressed me greatly back then.
We loved Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Rambo, Rush Hour, ET, and many other movies. When I told Rayyan about the Rocky series, he was hesitant to watch the movie because he is no great fan of boxing or any other violent sports. He usually says, “I don’t understand what is entertaining about people hitting people”. I have my way of convincing him and I did. We watched Rocky not just once but few times over and over again, because the movie won over me once again like it did before, and Rayyan too fell for its charm.
He agreed there was more to the movie than just boxing. It worked like an inspiration for him because it showed that determination and hard work gets you what you want. The fight where Rocky is not declared winner in the end made it so close to our heart and that particular scene won over Rayyan completely. The movie itself, made by a struggling Sylvester Stallone was motivational enough and I had narrated all those stories to Rayyan and that made it more interesting for him.
After watching the movie for the 4th time, he told me that he wanted to run the steps of Philadelphia Art Museum someday, like Rocky did. I said OK, as though we were going to do it in few years. How was it possible for a teen boy from a tiny village of Byndoor to run up the steps of an art museum half way across the globe? We come from middle class Indian family, where travelling abroad is not a luxury we can afford. So far Rayyan hadn't stepped outside his home state as well. When Rayyan expressed his doubts I asked, “So you actually did not learn that anything is possible with determination, did you?”
True to my words, in 2 years Rayyan had his chance of running up the Rocky Steps. Standing atop the steps he says he felt motivation and optimism surging through his heart. It was kind of an impossible dream that came true quickly. Moreover, nothing was planned. It all happened by chance.
I wanted to visit my friends in USA, the ladybirds who were my sisters in survival of cancer. It is more than a support group because the bond we share is something beyond what we experience usually. All the ladybirds would have get together and meet so often; but since I was in India, it was not easy for me to be there. In 2008, I finally decided no matter what, we were going to USA and meet as many ladybirds as possible. Moreover, Rayyan and Farheena had grown very close to Paula and they wanted to see her in person.
Luckily my friend Judy lived just opposite of Philadelphia art museum and she invited us to spend few days with her. This is how Rayyan could run up the Rocky steps. We also celebrated 4th of July with the Americans, watching the fireworks from the best view we could have. I and Rayyan stood below the statue of Rocky together and wondered, how this did happen in real.  Rayyan said back then, “Sometimes, things go wrong but often things go right for us as well. We should be grateful for this positive happenings in our lives”. I was so happy to see him run up the steps of Art Museum.
Life shows us many moments to be optimists and motivated, but we tend to side-line them and concentrate on things that go wrong. That is the reason why we feel that many things go wrong. But thankfully Rayyan always is there by my side to remind me that many things have gone right for us as well. We only have to learn to look at the positive side of our lives where miracles happen every day and our experience with Rocky meant a lot to us.


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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