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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 29

Do You Want Me To Be Naughty?

My mom would say I was very troublesome child even on the day of my birth. I was breech baby delivered at home, and she would narrate how horrible her condition was. In fact I came into the world one leg first which looks like split position to me. After birth I would cry all the time, through the night and through the day very loudly. My mom would shift me to one side of the house and when neighbours on that side complained, to the other side. As a young child, I was spoilt a bit due to the club foot and she says that made me more demanding, naughty, loud, nagging and so on…  many more such labels were attached to me, which I agree to some extent. It was much later in my life that I turned out be what I am today. Even from the age of 6/7 I would hear my mom say, “Someday you will have a naughty child like you to take care of and you will realize what I have been through”. I heard these words through my childhood, through my teen years and also during my pregnancy. My mom would smile and say, “Now you will get to know how tough it is being a mom, especially to a naughty child. I can’t wait to see you get a bit of what you have given me”. Off course she never meant it in a way to hurt me, but it was her joke.
I was ready for troublesome child and had read quite few books to handle few tantrums effectively to prove to my mom how to handle such issues without hurting the child. Yeah….. I carried few bad memories from my childhood as well, especially regarding my grandmother and the way she treated me. We both had our own agendas with the child who was not born yet.
Rayyan came, he saw, he conquered our agendas and threw it out never to be found. All those books I read turned out to be waste because there were no tantrums. He got toilet trained very easily. Would sleep through the night and barely cried. My mom would usually lament, how can God do this? How could someone who has tormented her mom, get a calm and peaceful child like this? One of our neighbours who had shifted to the house temporarily for three months realized we had baby in our home only after 2 months. She was gaga over Rayyan and kept telling me, how blessed I was to have a peaceful child who seldom bothered me. That triggered my mom’s memory and she started narrating to the lady about my childhood and how mean I was to her.
My mom was only the first one to lament about my luck. Soon there were many moms who would compare their own children to Rayyan and say how lucky I was. They never gave credit to me in any way. I had meditated peacefully for hours, I had eaten very bland food throughout my pregnancy, I did yoga and always kept my mental balance intact. Even after his birth, I would let him alone when he wanted to and pick him when he indicated it. A slight creaking of the cradle would wake me up and I was awake before he was every time. But those women and few men as well gave all the credit to Rayyan.
As a baby it was alright, but as he grew up and the same drama continued, I would feel bad for their children who watched their moms tell tales of their naughtiness exactly like my mom did. I would empathize with them more than their moms because I experienced what these children were going through but not what their moms went through. Slowly I started defending them. As days went by I started saying that they had every right to behave like children and what they branded naughty was just normal behavior of a child. In few more years, I started saying, “I don’t know what your problem is, I love naughty children and I wish my Rayyan would be naughty like your boy/girl”.
One day Rayyan was jumping up on the chairs, climbing on table, trying to misplace things and was behaving very odd. I was relaxing on a Sunday and wondered what was going on…. It was not Rayyan at all who was in front of me. Finally he tore a page from his book and looked expectantly at me. I was not sure what was going on, but did not interrupt him because I am usually lazy on a Sunday and I trusted Rayyan to be always right. Finally, Rayyan walked up to me and asked me, “Are you happy?” I am completely confused and ask, “Happy about what?” and the innocent child answers, “I was being naughty now as you always say you want me to be. I tried few things those moms usually complain about and you say you like it when children do that…………” the rest of the words were lost for me though Rayyan chattered away. I had completely forgotten my own child in defending the hurt child in me and other children who looked hurt. Now the challenge in front of me was something I hadn’t read in all those books. Should I tell me that his behavior did not please me and put all the effort he put into it to waste? Should I correct him and tell him he had absolutely no problem and those children who were being naughty were bad so that he will be under pressure behave always? What should I say.. what what what… the questions rang in my head. He stood there expecting an answer. I calmed down and maybe I did the best in that sticky situation. “Beta, you are the best. I am so lucky to have you. Don’t you hear your naani say that so often? But I was not like you. I was a naughty child and misbehaved very often. When people complained about me, I felt hurt. So I was trying to protect those children from getting hurt. Imagine how they feel when their moms say they are bad and don’t want them. Even I love calm and peaceful children like you, but not everyone can be like you. So, I was only trying to make those children happy. I am happy the way you are and I don’t mind if you want to be naughty. I am OK with anything as long as you are happy”. It took me nearly 30 minutes to put this message across to a small child, but I think I did a good job finally. I also mentioned all the good habits he had like putting away his shoes, wiping his feet, washing hands before eating, being very careful and many other things which I appreciated. I brought up all the things I could recall about him and how proud I felt about that. Finally Rayyan went back to playing with his lego toys and being who he really was. I couldn’t help laughing finally at how weird he was when he was trying to be naughty. It was more funny than me trying to be a submissive, obedient wife.
Years passed and he found a friend who was notorious for his behavior. His mother would always complain to me about her son. One day I told her, “I would enjoy my time with him and stand by him if he was my son”. Rayyan was 11 then and he again asked me, “Maa do you want me to change and be more naughty like ________. Am I too boring?”
 Did I repeat that mistake once again after promising I would never do it? I explained him once again how difficult it is to handle naughty children, the ordeals their moms face, the trouble they get into etc and no one wants that in their life. Anyone would go for a Rayyan as child happily. But, if at all those children could have a mom who could handle their issues, the person is me. Do you agree?” Fortunately Rayyan nodded in affirmative which encouraged me to continue. “I don’t think I can have a better child than you, but I feel the other children can have a better mom. That is the reason I mentioned it”. Again I went on to narrate few incidents which the moms messed up for their children and how I could have handled it better. Again it was long discussion I had with Rayyan.
I still defend children who are naughty, but I never repeated my past mistakes again. All children have this yearning to be appreciated by their parents, especially their moms. It is not easy to be a mom because everything we do leaves an impact on the child’s life forever. My mom was wrong. She was not under pressure anytime bringing up me, but I was always when bringing up Rayyan. When your child is perfectly good, you struggle to do justice. Since most of the time he left the decision making to me, I had to struggle to make right choices for him. My mom on the other hand could always blame me for whatever went wrong. I never got that opportunity. My mom had a luxury of earning pity from everyone around for dealing with a child like me, where as in my case the role is reversed. I lived so carelessly without giving a hoot to what someone would think of me, but now I am so conscious because of Rayyan presence in my life. I have started respecting him and try not to spoil my image in front of him. I know I wouldn’t exchange Rayyan for anyone in this world, but at the same time I would like him to be closer to humans like me so that the pressure on me would ease a bit. I wish my mom would have experienced this ……


Sunday, June 9, 2019

100 Rays Of Son -28

The Lost Bag

Immediately, after my first cycle of chemotherapy, we traveled to Byndoor. With all the stress, I left my purse in the auto as I got down carrying Farheena. My husband flew into rage and started giving lectures which made very less sense. I was too tired due to surgery and chemo to defend myself, yet I tried to justify that since I got down carrying Farheena, and he was in charge of luggage, he should have taken care of it. That just worked as fuel as he removed his watch, banged it down and asked, "Do I remove my watch I keep it separately on auto? Same with the purse. You shouldn't have removed it from your shoulder at all"... He wasn't able to understand the pain of surgery, nor the effects of chemotherapy. It was so tough for me to manage Farheena in the first place. I had half mind to walk back home and not visit this place at all, but I think the insecurity of going through cancer had mellowed me into silence. All the while Rayyan was a mute spectator to all the drama and sat beside me, patting Farheena's head. 
Years passed and Rayyan was in Arena Animation. My brother-in-law threw a pizza party for us when my husband was back from Dubai on vacation. As four of us sat in the auto, Rayyan had to remove his back pack to fit in. As we got down from auto, Farheena panicked in the heavy traffic flow of Jayanagar. Rayyan calmed her down and took her to the footpath as I paid the bill. By the time he returned for his bag, the auto had left. We had version 2 of the same drama by my husband again. All my family tried to pacify him but he kept tormenting Rayyan. We couldn't even enjoy the party, because other than Rayyan everyone was troubled by his behaviour. Rayyan was very much worried about his bag because it had lot of things important to him. I was at loss how to shut up my husband because finally even the other customers started pitying Rayyan. 
Finally a guy walked up to us and said, "Such things happen so often. Learn to forgive and leave that boy alone. He had not said a single word against this barrage of words". We all felt embarrassed and looked in different directions. The waiter also threw in few comforting words to Rayyan. Finally, my husband shut his mouth.
Four days later I got a call from an unknown number. The person on the other end asked whether this is Rayyan Rizwan. I said I was his mom and asked what he wanted. The answer shocked me, "I am the auto driver you traveled with few days ago. Your son left his bag in my auto. I saw that when I went home and took it in. As I checked through it, there was a dairy milk chocolate that I gave to my daughter. But immediately I remembered your son and how lovingly he took care of his sister. I was tempted to keep it so I did not contact you, but I realised somehow I cannot take this. I found your number in his college ID. He tried helping his sister and ignored his bag which has lot of important documents and many other things. If I keep this, God will not forgive me. I will bring it today to your home. Kindly pay me something for the auto fare". I was taken aback. This was beyond my expectation. I thanked him heartily and assured to pay him some amount for his good deed. Late in the evening he returned the bag. He asked forgiveness for taking the chocolate, but I assured him that was completely OK as this meant a lot to us. I paid him more than the auto fare which he refused intially, but later accepted. I asked his name, but he refused to say anything because he said he did not do this for recognition and left saying, "My only wish is for my child to grow up to be like your son. He brings out the goodness hidden in people. Earlier if I found something on my auto, I never even thought of returning it, but I think I am changed now. Thank him on my behalf". 
As Rayyan checked through his bag, he found everything intact, other than the chocolate he had kept as a surprise for me. Rayyan was relieved and so happy to get his sunglasses gifted by Paula, Swiss knife, his wallet, and so many other things that were precious to him. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 27

When Rayyan Healed Himself

One of my neighbours would complain that I children talk a lot when I am around. As Rayyan would narrate to me what he saw on the way to school, what he did there or what games they played, she would be irritated and ask me, “Why do you listen to all that nonsense? Not only Rayyan, but almost all children narrate inconsequential things to you and whenever I hear the chatter, I get a headache”.  I did not explain anything to her but I know the reason why I listen to children and why it is important to listen to them. I had learned my lesson.
I got to know about Art Therapy, long after I seen the live demo of it. Rayyan would love to draw and paint since he was two or may be a bit younger. I clearly remember him trying to draw a flower on his second birthday after the celebrations were over.

Rayyan was a pampered child until July 1995. Even though we had faced my dad’s and my sister’s cancer during the past two years he got his share of attention which was diverted from him only after we realized that Farheena may have lot of challenges in dealing with her life. My family was heartbroken and were at loss as to how to deal with this situation. All of sudden, we all were trying to find a solution for Farheena, while Rayyan though loved and cared for, got a bit lonely in this chaos. This was the time when Rayyan took refuge in paintings and drawings. He would spend time creating art work all alone, most often with watercolor. He looked so engrossed, that we seldom bothered him.
He continued his hobby during my diagnosis with cancer, my treatment, my sister’s death, Farheena’s continued therapy and so on. At times I would join him and create some paintings as well. Soon Farheena became a part of the group. She would continue scribbling until sleep overtook her.

 At times her art would wander over the floor and the walls as well. Unlike her, Rayyan was very neat and clean. He would always neatly put away the paints, pencils, paper and other stationary in a wooden box his grandma had given him and wash the palette/brushes and dry it as well before putting it away.
After my treatment, I started selling soft toys to retail shops and also to people I knew to meet my financial needs. I also had stalls put up in exhibitions through a women welfare society where our profits were split. Helping Hand was an organization that helped me sell them and gave my confidence a boost, especially Mr. Ali Khwaja.
Once there was a conference of some kind organized by cancer care people and Mrs. Usha Shinde invited me to put up a stall there. Unfortunately I have forgotten who organized the event because what followed became very important and remained etched strongly in my memory. Rayyan had a holiday and he had accompanied me to the event. There was a painting competition organized to showcase cancer awareness. Since Rayyan was always interested in drawing and painting, I encouraged him to participate in the competition. There was a young volunteer who took him to competition and she lovingly explained to him what it was about. She told him to draw something that would show what he felt about cancer. I was smiling within because he was too young to put something like this in art, so I wanted to interrupt and tell her not to ask him to do something so serious. By then a customer came by and I got lost in selling toys.
By the time I was free, the competition was over and Rayyan had handed over his painting to the young volunteer. I could see tears dripping down her cheeks and there were many others who looked very emotional. She gave Rayyan a big hug. Curious I walked up to the group and saw the painting in her hand. The page was divided diagonally into two parts. One part had a woman with tubes running into her body and a child on the floor with colours and paper looking scared. The expression on the child’s face looked heart wrenching though the art itself was simple. On the other half, there was a woman selling toys and child with paint and paper smiling. Not many will understand, neither will I ever be able to express my emotions of that moment in words. The painting moved almost everyone who were present and I could see many going for the tissues. Rayyan won a consolation prize (wall clock) for the art. It was treasured by my mom for years until it got lost in the chaos of her cancer diagnosis and treatment a decade later.
After the event was over, I came back home and wondered what the child must have been through during those days when we fought the roughest phase of our lives. I skimmed through his paintings and realized he had used it as Art Therapy to deal with his emotions. On the day I went for surgery, my chemotherapy or some other challenging event, the paintings would be in circular form and dark in colour. On the days he was happy with some positive happenings, they would be of nature with trees, flowers, butterflies etc.
From that day onwards, I made sure that I talk or most often listen to Rayyan for at least 30 minutes every day. If he wants to talk more, I am there to listen. It could be about anything or anyone, it doesn’t matter to me. These days I often hear about the MCU and their achievements with enough enthusiasm that it looks like their profits will be deposited into our bank accounts. Sometimes it is about the religion and God, his work, travel, friends, ideas, good jokes, movies, Batman etc etc but I owe it to him to listen wholeheartedly. At times Rayyan realizes that the topic he is talking about may not interest me and checks it out by asking, are you actually listening to me and I repeat the sentences in his exact words back to him. That one decision has made a huge difference to both of us in a very positive way.


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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