Wednesday, July 31, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 80

When Rayyan Sang In Loop

Rayyan has never been interested in singing for others, though sometimes I hear him singing all by himself along with the music playing in the background. I also hear him crack his voice and go cough cough cough…….trying to scream like Chester Bennington.
When he went to TEMS, as a part of the school program he learned to sing Naath, which are semi religious songs with minimal music to accompany it. Once Rayyan told me about a song they learned which was about the dead person waiting for the judgement day to come by sleeping in his grave all alone. I told him to sing it to see how he is managing singing in Urdu, a language new to him. He seriously started his demo version of the song with lot of emotion included in his voice. I was kind of taken by surprise with his singing. His pronunciation, memorization and singing were quite commendable. I did not expect this from him and was about to appreciate him when I heard stifled sniffing sounds. Worried I went out to see what was happening, when I saw two elderly people crying profusely and sniffing. Yeah, these two people were my mom and dad who were overcome by emotion hearing their grandson sing.

Gearing up myself with enough defence to put up with their exaggerated praise for his singing, I asked them hesitatingly, “Did you like it?” They completely ignored me and called Rayyan out. “Beta, what was that song about? You sang it so well”. Rayyan went on to explain it to them about the song and they both explained it to me after him twice. I stood there nodding my head not wanting to fight with them. “Will you sing it for us once again?” my mom requested him. Rayyan obliged and started singing it again. I can still see him in the school uniform, standing in attention and singing it earnestly as though a great audience was listening to him. Soon my mom pulled the duppatta on her head with respect and started swaying to the song. This was not too far from expectation but what was shocking was that my dad was in tears and was listening by swaying to the song. My dad has never been too expressive with his emotions and I haven’t seen him cry often. The stoic person he was, I wasn’t sure what moved him so much in the song that he was shedding tears. Rayyan, was not observing his grandparents but was quite engrossed in singing the song. When he was done, they both praised him and blessed him profusely. As I was thinking that was the end of the episode, I heard my dad say, “Beta, can you sing it once again for me? It is such a lovely song”. From where he stood, Rayyan started singing with the same earnest again. By then I had lost the love for the song, and was kind of getting irritated. The whole episode was repeated as though it was on a loop or like someone is rewinding it and playing it again. You will not believe when I say that this was repeated 5 – 6 times before I intervened and put a stop to it.
I never dared to ask Rayyan to sing anything again, though my parents would often have a request with encore added.
Apart from my parents’, there was another person who appreciated his musical talents. That was my friend and his aunt Paula. Paula had great voice and I was amazed by her singing of hymn in church where her voice and song boomed over others. Standing beside her, I had forgotten what I was singing and listened to her in awe. She was very picky with her music. She once asked me who was the best singer in India and I said, “Latha Mangeshkar”. I also played few of her songs for Paula, but she laughed out loud. In her opinion, her voice did not run deep, was too shallow and shrill. This was the first time I was hearing someone criticizing the legendary singer in this way. What followed that was funnier because she said, “I think our own Rayyan has such good voice which is better than her. His voice has a boom and runs so deep. If he was my son, I would sure make him a singer. In fact, for people who hear him without meeting him, it is shock to see that voice belongs to this body because it sounds different from his personality and appearance”. I did not try to say anything in return because she would then start criticizing my voice to defend Rayyan. It was surprising that most of my American friends his accent better and often request him to repeat what I was saying. Sigh!  Paula was very serious with his piano lessons and would praise his talent for picking up her lessons quickly. He enjoyed it as well, but unfortunately back in India he couldn’t pursue it further.

As for Rayyan, like with sports, he feels he wants to enjoy music and doesn’t want to pursue it seriously. He enjoys singing when he feels like it. He has found a way to enjoy his life, be happy and live peacefully, something that eludes most of us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

100 Rays Of Son -79

Fight For Seat

This is not a political post. Honestly there can never be a political post in 100RaysOfSon because that would be something Rayyan would object to. The fight for the seat here is among Rayyan’s cousins to sit beside him when we are together. You will not believe me that sometimes I have to interfere to pacify my sister in this matter who really fights it out like politicians, because if her children do not get the seat beside Rayyan on their turn, she feels hurt as well. Sigh! We never get to choose our family.
Rayyan with his interest in computer games, adventure sports, trekking, swimming and other activities besides his pleasant and peaceful nature is an object of attraction to children, especially to his cousins. They have been attracted to him like moth to light. Without them realizing it, they imitate him to dot. Moreover, he can always end a dispute among them with his word or verdict, but he seldom does that.
There are four cousins and just one Rayyan. When we are out for a dinner, travelling, on a tour or picnic, all of them want the seat beside Rayyan. Sometimes, I have been tempted to auction the seat beside Rayyan to the highest bidder. If I can plan enough outings, I can quit my job and stay at home conveniently making enough money out of this. In fact, I can cut a fair share for Rayyan as well.
When we were in Byndoor, my family had shifted there for few years. My mom, father, brother, sis-in-law and her children lived there. Due to my mom’s cancer, we had to live together. His cousin Manal was a foodie and we had tough time getting our share of food from her even though she was tiny toddler. As for Rayyan, she would take care to keep away his share safely. In fact, even to this day I have trouble believing she did not eat it ever. We would never find it, no matter how much we searched, but as soon as Rayyan came from school, she would hand it over to him.
As for his another cousin Huzaif, he has tough time accepting anything we tell him. I had once defeated him in NFS Most Wanted game, and he would not accept defeat even with repeated attempts of me winning the game. But when he lost to Rayyan, he was all praise for his gaming abilities. He was proud that Rayyan won the game. Huh? This is how he is when he is with Rayyan. I haven’t seen him arguing or fighting over anything with Rayyan, though rest of us may have tough time convincing him about anything under the sun.
Shuraim, my brother’s son has in a way suffered due to Rayyan, though Rayyan actually did not actively participate in his suffering. He has completely different temperament and character but most of the time he is compared to Rayyan and given his example to behave. I am surprised that he hasn’t developed hatred towards the guy who makes his life miserable. He loves Rayyan like any of his cousins. One of the proud moment for me was when his mom was rebuking him, “Look at Rayyan. He obediently completes all the tasks his mother gives him unlike you, who is always arguing and refusing to do anything”.  Before I could open my mouth and tell how wrong it is to compare children, he replied, “Look at his Mom, she thanked him for giving her a glass of water. She appreciates him so much. Do I get that?” The matter ended there.
My sister’s youngest son is considered naughty and very smart. You can guess the result of this deadly combination. In fact, once I saw him hiding behind a door with the remote control and changing channels when something very interesting was going on in TV. He was just 3 or 4 that time. People engrossed in the TV were cursing the cable guy when he stood there silently playing with them. Rayyan is the only person we can trust to take care him. I mean, when he is not in front of us we wonder what he is up to, but only if he is with Rayyan and there is silence we can relax. If not, when he is silent, he is up to some prank and it gives us jitters to go see what he was doing.
I love my nephews and my niece quite a lot and in turn they love me as well, but I see that they have bonded much better with Rayyan. The incidents above are just few of them which shows they have overcome their normal behaviours and turned into angels when they are around Rayyan.
The stories I narrated above was something that happened in their childhood. They all loved and cared for Farheena as well, especially Huzaif who would show lot of concern for her wellbeing while he would torment his younger brother. Manal has been taking care of her at times as well. Both the younger cousins have never hurt her, but it was during travels, picnics and outings when they would fight for Rayyan. Now that they are growing up, they are being more sensitive to pay some attention to Farheena as well and make her feel important. Initially in their fight for the right over Rayyan, they were forgetting that someone is else is becoming grumpy and angry. Sometimes, I would get so frustrated with their fights that I would say, “No one gets Rayyan today. He will come and sit right beside me”. Even now, they do have a special place for Rayyan in their hearts, but they try to give Farheena more importance because they are sensible children.
I am good with children and have won their love, but I have to concede defeat to Rayyan when it comes to handling them. I remember one incident when I was working for Rashmi. We both had something important to catch up with and were in an emergency meeting. Rayyan had accompanied me and her daughter had accompanied her. The child was terribly bored as we discussed our presentations and we finally asked Rayyan to take care of her. We got engrossed in our work after that. When finally we finished, we realized it has nearly two hours since we forgot our children. What are they up to we wondered as we went in to find them both using the white board for creating stories with drawing. They had come up with very good drawing as well. Since then, whenever I speak to the child, the first question she would ask me was, “How is Rayyan anna (big brother)?”
I have never seen Rayyan showering children with love, hugs or kisses. In fact I don’t even recollect him doing it to any child other than Farheena when she was a baby. I don’t see him giving them chocolates, goodies or gifts as well. Yet he is loved by them. More than love there is kind of trust for him in children who meet him. They feel safe with him. If there is an empty seat beside him, every child will want to be there. This is something I feel good about because I love people who are good to children and love them. I am grateful to his cousins who have given him the love of his siblings.

100 Rays Of Son - 78

Sleeping Monster

Two things I never believe when my children declare it to me. One is Farheena promising me of doing her regular exercises and another is Rayyan waking up on time on a working day. Generally people sleep and wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, both my children do not just sleep, they leave their body here and travel to distant universes and when they wake up the next day it is like having a rebirth. One incident that happened in Byndoor proved it to me. Once a lightning struck the BSNL tower during a stormy night. The sound was so deafening that most of us jumped out of bed in our sleep. I rushed to checkout on my mom and dad who were awake, scared and at loss not understanding what was happening. Immediately, they asked me to check out on the poor children to see if they are safe. As I entered the room, I found them sleeping soundly as though nothing had happened at all. Seriously? The next morning, all the people were talking about the loud noise and we realized it was due to the lightning striking the BSNL tower. Finally, I realized other than my two children, everyone was woken up by that shattering loud noise.

Compared to Rayyan, Farheena is a sleeping beauty who wakes up at least at 15th attempt, but Rayyan – the sleeping monster is so unpredictable. When he has to go out for cycling or early morning walks, no matter how quiet the home is, or how deep his sleep, he is up just like Dracula when the sun goes down. Unknown to Rayyan, I have tried few experiments on him. One is tempting him to watch some interesting series like Breaking Bad or Daredevil on the eve of his cycling expedition. Those series can keep us hooked to them till late night. Yet, the next day when I laughingly peep into his room to see him sleeping away while others are enjoying their ride, I find an empty bed. Yeah, he stealthily sneaks away very early in the morning. I had once forced him to take cough medicine before sleeping because he had mild cough, yet he was up on time. I have given him heavy dinner, given him tough work, and many more but the ghost wanders away on time.
If not for the cycling or swimming, I have so much trouble waking him up. “Rayyan” “Yes maa I am waking up” … repeat that for 10 – 15 times. Most of the time, he is dreaming of waking up, following his morning routine and going to work laying there cosily on his bed. I have banned him from using the alarms because it will wake up everyone in home and also in neighbourhood but not Rayyan. We have tried all different ring tones for him and failed with all of them.
When Rayyan was born, he did not cry for long but nor drink milk, but immediately went to sleep. 

My sister was waiting with camera in hand to click his pictures, but this baby slept for quite long time.

We had to compromise and click his pictures when he was sleeping. I have not experienced those sleepless nights with both my children. They would sleep through the night from day one, unless they are sick.

Once when Rayyan fell asleep, my sister decorated him with jewellery, yet the baby did not wake up. It was time for his lunch, but it was so difficult to wake him up. The same drama happened to the teenager when we were with Paula. 

Rayyan had fallen asleep without a pillow and Paula tried to wake him up to sleep properly on his bed. I snickered and watched when she assumed that saying, “Rayyan, you are sleeping wrong. Sleep properly on your bed” was enough to get the job done. No response. I laughed and told Paula that doesn’t work. She found Annie, the doll, and pretended that it was possessed and was tormenting Rayyan when he was asleep. She did not want to be the cruel aunt who troubled a sleeping teen, so she passed the blame on to Annie. The doll climbed on his back, poked her finger in his ear and behaved like a very bad doll but the sleeping monster wouldn’t budge. Paula was shocked. He is lucky that we are good people who do not throw cold water on him, beat him or shout too loudly. May be that would have changed him.
Once my husband who was back from Dubai was shocked to see my efforts in waking up Rayyan. He gave me tip to wake up this 10 year old boy, “Just sneak up to him slowly and give him a hard pinch. That will teach him to wake up on time”. If I recollect my feelings towards my husband, I think this was the point when I kind of lost a quite a big chunk of love for him.
Every night I threaten both Rayyan and Farheena that I am not going to wake them up the next morning, but when I see them the next morning it looks as though they are not in this world anymore. So, the routine of summoning them from unknown world starts. On the other hand, when we have nothing to do for the day, Farheena will be awake early in the morning and staring at me. There is some tingling in my spine and when I open my eyes I find her looking at me and waiting for me to wake up. It is the same with Rayyan though he remains in his room and plays around there.
I am not sure, how coming from a light sleeper like me, these two people can sleep like logs. I sometimes feel that they enjoy this routine. It may be like that smell of baby powder which comforts you. Because, if I am not around they are up on their own.
One of these days, these two youngster are going to wake up and find that they have lost their jobs because they have slept for the whole year, depending on their mom to wake them up.

Not even the exams can wake him up

The grumpy waking up face

Sunday, July 28, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 77

#100RaysOfSon – 77
Disturbance In Soul
Recently when Rayyan was going to office, he came across a guy carrying chickens on a two wheeler. The chicken breeders and vendors have become quite heartless and never treat hens like living creatures at all. He says the beaks of those chicken were almost touching the road and they were terrified. As he stood at the traffic junction, he was quite horrified the way they were tied. What made him sad was the way the guy carrying the chickens and everyone around were insensitive to it. He tried talking to the guy carrying the chicken but he did not respond in a right way.
When Rayyan came back home that day, he pleaded with me to spare him from chicken consumption since he did not want to be a part of this cruelty. I recollected all the favourite dishes I would cook for Rayyan and Farheena from chicken and did not want him to give it up. As I was thinking of opposing him I saw how sad and dejected he looked and did not reply. Something about the incident that day had troubled him.
It is not just killing and eating chicken that was troubling him, but more than that it was the way people are insensitive to this particular species. Rayyan says that even those people who show sympathy towards an injured pigeon or any other bird, do not even think of a hen as a bird. With the way he was emotional I decided to leave him alone for time being before picking up the issue with him later. He says recently some people were lamenting the plight of a hurt pigeon, but when they entered the hotel they ordered grilled chicken without even thinking it was also a bird like the pigeon. As he was talking about this, I was going through great guilt because even though I loved my pet chickens, I have never thought of them when I am eating chicken dishes.

I remember back in Byndoor, once he saw a small hen kept for sale and bought it home. That hen had been bred for consumption and did not even know how to walk initially. She would walk sideways like a crab. She could not peck at strewn food but would only eat randomly pecking at the food given in a bowl. She was unlike the hens we had in our home at that time. She was terrified of everything around her. She looked like some character from cartoons and not a real animal. She would always move around us because she could not adapt to the world outside for a long time. She had to be kept separated from other hens for her safety. They would peck at her and chase her away. Slowly, she started finding her food naturally and moving around in our backyard. She did not live long though, because when the chicken flu hit our village, even before we realized she was sick, she was gone.
The way the hen behaved was something that had pulled very hard at an emotional chord in my heart as well but we people who have been eating chickens, continue to do that. He never liked beef or mutton and chicken was the only meat he ate. He doesn’t want to eat eggs because he feels we are killing the chicks before they are born. Recently when there was discussion about the abortion law, Rayyan casually remarked, “We humans eat so many eggs everyday but are worried about unborn human babies. When it comes to chicks, how cruel we are”. I did not argue that day because it took some time for me to register that eggs we eat everyday are unborn chicks.
So, after a few days I was talking to Rayyan about the chickens and why he was so reluctant to eat it. He was hesitant about speaking out what he was thinking. That doesn’t happen with him often. He usually speaks out his mind openly. After a bit of prodding, he finally answered, “Maa I don’t know whether you will believe or understand what I am going to say. I feel there is peace inside me. You can call it a soul or something and it is very calm and serene. Whenever I do something wrong, I feel a disturbance in it. I feel that disturbance when I eat chicken after seeing how that species is tormented for our taste. Please don’t force me to eat chicken”. He was quite serious of what he was saying. I was kind of dumbfounded because I never thought I would hear something like this from Rayyan. He usually speaks only about scientifically proven rational things and not about divinity, spirituality or souls. After sometime I recovered and asked him, “Why do you think I don’t feel such disturbance in my soul when I eat chicken?” “Maa I think you have not taken care to maintain that peace and maybe there is already disturbance within you. So, this small ripple may not make a difference. For me it does”. Somehow, I believed what he was saying. I am trying very hard from that day to find that peace and serenity within me. It is not easy. I think it is this peace he has maintained that has allowed him to conquer negative emotions like anger, jealousy etc.
I respect his wishes and do not force him to eat chicken anymore though occasionally, I do ask him to taste a bit of what I have cooked. He obliges but I see the reluctance in him and go through guilt later. Sometimes when we order pizza, he removes the chicken pieces but eats the pizza.
Farheena was a great lover of chicken dishes, but now she is also giving up on chicken. She doesn’t ask for it anymore, though when it is placed in front of her, she cannot resist. I very rarely cook chicken now because it feels very odd when Rayyan is sitting with us for lunch or dinner and is avoiding it while we eat it with him sitting among us. Even though we are not vegetarians, Farheena and I have reduced our non-veg consumption quite a lot.
He once told me that Dodos were lucky because they became extinct and did not face the torment, suffering and degrading that happened to hens. It sounds so true. This is one species that has been reduced to mere food for everyone.
Rayyan doesn’t has even a tiny streak of violence in him and cannot inflict pain on anyone, be it human or animal. He says he never feels that he is superior to any animal but feels he is one of them as a living being. He doesn’t has hatred towards any animal though I don’t see any love for house lizards or leeches in him. I am very proud of the way he lived his life so far.
Since the day I have heard about the peace Rayyan has found within him, I am yearning to find it for myself. It was the way he mentioned it that made it something I would like to feel at least once. I want to feel that tiny ripple happening someday… hope I do.

Remember the crazy rooster? He was so comfortable visiting our home, sitting on the pillow and also getting into Farheena’s lap or Rayyan’s shoulder or head. I had a pic of a hen on Rayyan’s head but cannot find it now.

The cruel way hens are carried on two wheelers

Saturday, July 27, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 76

The Prism That Made My Life A Rainbow

I was a trouble maker as a child, but, as I grew up, I sobered down. Though I had those temper tantrums, crying bouts and other teen related symptoms; for most of my teen years I was quiet, scared and withdrawn young girl. I was afraid of the world. Loud sounds, fights, dogs, cows, men, and eve teasers everything scared me in my teens. I do not understand when and why the transition happened, but somewhere during my adolescent time it took place slowly and unnoticed by me. It could be one of the other alter egos taking over me, or just simple growing up process. Whatever, I damn sure that I was not the same person in my teens, that I am now nor the one I was in my childhood.  The present myself can relate well to the childhood myself, but in no way can it see eye to eye with my teen self; which was hollow, pretentious, always trying to please others, and nervous.
Relationships often have responsibilities attached which take away a part of you or change you into something else. Being a daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, student or wife had that kind of effect of on me. All these made my life dull and boring up until 20th August 1991, 7.18 a.m. On that day, the most wonderful moment of my life took place. I gave birth to a child and I was born again. That is a contradictory sentence, but that is how life has been ever since. When I say, ‘I was born’, that is the beginning of my alter personality which started taking over me and changing me into a Maa. Few decades ago when I was reading Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Tell Me Your Dreams’, I was intrigued by the multiple personalities of Ashley Paterson. It was unbelievable that a person could have a diverse personality inside their psyche; but now I was seeing the emergence of my own alternate personality which simply took over me. The advantage I had over Ashley was that, I was aware of both the sides of these personalities and could interact with them. I am spared the mystery at least! Whew.
Days have passed by, and finally, ‘Maa’ rules my life now. Rayyan made me a Maa universally, because I am the best playing the role of Maa to almost everyone. So many have adopted me as their alternate Maa. It became just stronger with the arrival of Farheena. The best part about having Rayyan and Farheena is that they did not take away what is there in me and change me into a Maa. Instead, they have brought the real me out and made me what I was really meant to be in the first place. They haven’t driven me nuts – but made me think wisely. They have not made me weak and nervous but made me strong and brave.  They have given me the enthusiasm to fight for my life and live in their happy world, enjoying their company. I can proudly say ‘I am at my best and most happy when I am being a Maa’.
 I am indebted to Rayyan for returning my own self back to me. Since his birth, I started enjoying walks, playing, reading and partying. He filled my boring world with lot of fun, excitement, goals, and liveliness while at the same time he was helping me cope with the challenges life brought my way.
He is a good challenge to me for playing any board games. At first I thought it would be a child’s play to beat him in those games which I was considered to be genius, but I found him getting better than me at most of them. I was shocked that he beat me easily in Othello while he had very less experience in it and I was quite an expert in the game. When you have a good challenge, games become an interesting experience, especially when you feel proud of the person who can beat you. He helped me solve Rubik’s cube so patiently, something I had planned to teach him but failed.
Movies, music, TV series have never been the same. Earlier I used to watch them but with Rayyan I get to talk and discuss them. The experience is completely different. Since we belong to different generations, I get to enter the world of the child/youngster when I am with Rayyan. It wouldn’t be the same with someone my age. We see things from different perspectives and share our ideas.
I wouldn’t have enjoyed MCU movies as much if not for him. May be, being diehard fan of Batman and DC, I would have avoided it completely. Watching RDJ and Hugh Jackman as Iron Man and Wolverine has been one of the best movie experiences for me. Also, it is because of Rayyan I got introduced to Linkin Park music which is an important part of my life now.
I would like to share a small poem here which many years ago Rayyan who was around 7-8 years walked up to me and rendered spontaneously.  I treasure it one of the best award I ever received. It was said in much simpler words in mixed up language.  I wrote it down and kept it in my own words.

God gave me a Maa

God has given me legs to walk
A boneless tongue to talk
A short nose to poke about
A big mouth to eat and shout
A cheek to receive lovely kiss
Friends to help me in crisis
Wonderful teachers to teach
A father to discipline me and preach
A heart to warn me when dangers lurk
Two tiny hands to do my work
Above all God gave me a Mommy
Who can do everything for me!
She talks for me when my words fail
She pokes about when I lose trail
She shouts on my behalf when I have sore throat
She plays with me when my friends tire out
She teaches me what my teachers can’t
She preaches me when my father won’t
She is in my heart to make it strong
She is like music and a beautiful song
I love my Maa.

Off course I love that dear boy who is grown up now but yet has not lost touch with that child. Rayyan summed it all very well. I changed back into behaving and being a child after I became a Maa. Gone were the days I spent, brooding over lost opportunities, lazing around, being grounded for no apparent reason or watching boring movies. It was time again for long walks, activities, funny cartoons, great movies, TV series, music, creativity and fun. I took up painting once again and it was one of the activities we all enjoyed thoroughly as a group of expert painters. Occasionally, Farheena would get carried away and her art would spread on the floor or climb up the walls. She wouldn’t stop until sleep took over her genius creation.
I allowed one messy room for my children to enjoy themselves. The walls could be painted and floor could be tainted there, but nowhere else in the house. I had painted the walls with beautiful Disney characters. To this day, my children have followed the rule. They do not trespass their territories ever.
There was a time when I was confused about making decisions about bringing up my child. Children were precious and I could not take chances. Though I had instincts telling me what was right and what was wrong, I decided to seek expert advice from people who knew about children. Starting with a book ‘Bringing Up Baby’, I intently studied a lot and listened to people who mattered on parenting. Finally what precious gift I got out from all my effort was my ability to be patient, ability to accept the truth gracefully, ability to persevere and ability to love unconditionally. I am indebted to my children for returning my own self back to me and I am especially indebted to Rayyan for initially changing my life with presence of tiny self and now with his efforts and enormous wisdom.  Rayyan is the prism who changed my dull boring life into a bright colourful rainbow.          

Friday, July 26, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 75

The Bhambha

A few days ago, my brother Sajid had called me. He asked me how is Giggle Garden doing, how is my husband, how is Munni (that is Farheena) and then in a very loving tone asked “How is our Bhambha?” I was appalled and retorted, “Stop calling him Bhambha. He is 27 year old man and not that curly haired baby crawling on fours to be called Bhambha. I think it is because of you that he acts like a child always and he is not yet married”. Now tell me, who would marry a guy whose uncle calls him Bhambha? My brother is having tough time accepting that Rayyan is no more the baby Bhambha but a grown man. It all started when I was pregnant.
My sister was the last child born in our family. When I was pregnant with Rayyan, we were all equally excited to have the first baby of the next generation. While we were all looking forward to a girl child for reason unknown, there was one person strongly praying for a boy for a silly reason. That person was my brother, Sajid, and the silly reason was that his friend’s sister had a boy and he was bragging about it. Since the day the radiologist had told my sister unofficially that the child may be a girl, his friend would tell him how nice it was for him to have a nephew with whom he play manly sports and other bullshit which actually affected my brother. He would strongly pray that I should give birth to a boy. Finally, when he got to know that he had a nephew, his joy knew no bounds. With tears in his eyes, he picked up Rayyan and showed him to his friend and called him Bhambha lovingly.
 I am not sure how the Lion King makers stole this scene and included it in the movie. It was the same way the Rafiki held Simbha to show to the forest animals 3 years later. He feels Rayyan changed his gender and was on his side from the day he was born as a boy. For our revenge, we dressed Rayyan as a girl and clicked picture with him. He was not aware of it.
My brother loves his family and is a nice person, but his love for Rayyan is something completely different. I think there is an extra chamber in his heart, especially to store that different love for Rayyan.
So far when I see our family group photos, I do not see my brother among us. I was wondering why we were being so ashamed of him that we did not include him the group when I realized he was the only boy in our family and took the responsibility of clicking all the photos for us. He must have been overjoyed to have another boy in the family. We were happy and never told him that when we were old and going through the pictures he would be missing in the group. Most of Rayyan’s childhood pics were also clicked by him. So, whereas we have lot of memorable photos with Rayyan and Farheena, this guy has just a few.
He was very protective and possessive of Rayyan throughout his childhood. If he was busy listening to music or watching a movie, it was very difficult to get him going, but when it came to Rayyan’s needs he would be in action very fast.
In olden days, we would use water from tap for drinking and did not have these modern day filters. We were not sick so often as well. When Rayyan was born, Sajid decided that we should use the bottled water for him and not the direct tap water. I was worried that it would not help him adapt to the world if we became too protective of him but kept quite because if we started a debate on this and my brother would mention the germs in the tap water, I was afraid that my mom would force me to buy bottled water to bathe him as well.
 Once he was preparing for his diploma exams and was studying hard with his friends. Rayyan’s bottled water was empty. As soon as my mom announced this, he rushed to the shop to buy water for Rayyan. Unfortunately, the nearby shops did not have bottled water that day. They were not so common 27 years ago. So he took off on his cycle some 7 km to a medical store to get water for him. Next day he had exams and he was gone from his group for nearly 2 hours. His friend who was studying with him was a bit upset and asked him why he was absconding from studies. When he told him what the emergency was, his friend was aghast and reprimanded him that this was not something right he was doing. I was a bit excited that may be he will put sense into him. He said that children should be given exposure to a bit of germs and infections to build up their immunity. Giving him bottled water will only make him weak. My brother did not argue with him much, so I assumed that may be he has understood what his friend said. As soon as he came inside the house, he declared, “Pisoulo!” which means mad in Nawaiti, our language. “That fellow is so jealous of our Rayyan. Crazy guy thinks I am going to believe everything he says and compromise on Rayyan’s health”.  
Other than my brother, no one has ever accused me of being a very cruel mom to Rayyan. He has some weird memories of my cruelty to the poor child which neither Rayyan nor I can recollect. No one else in my family feels that way either. I can only assume that he must have had nightmares back then and thinks they are real, or it could be the very little disciplinary measures that I had undertaken which must have looked monstrous to him.
Rayyan has had his fair share of freedom and adventures. He doesn’t know that he owes it to his uncle. My mom was very protective of my brother and did not give him much freedom to enjoy his life. Later he got busy with work, family and other life challenges and lost on that fun he could have had earlier. Learning from that, I decided I would never allow my fears to stop Rayyan from having fun. All those adventures in sea, forests and treks are because I learned my lesson at the expense of his uncle.
Like my brother was protective of him earlier, Rayyan has the same feelings for his uncle today. No matter what he does, Rayyan finds a way to defend him. At times we are waiting for Sajid for hours and we start grumbling that he is late, but Rayyan tells us that is the way uncle is. So, you should be ready to wait if you want to go with him. Somehow I feel, rather than having a big uncle as a person who can help and protect him in crisis, Rayyan feelings towards his uncle is like one would have a towards a big baby. He can never say ‘No’ to him like we have difficulty saying no to cute, chubby babies. Neither can he accept he fallacies.
Though they are different people in size, proportion, temperament, understanding and many more, they never have argued ever. Not once has my brother reprimanded Rayyan even mildly. His voice is always filled with love and pride when he is talking about Rayyan, but even to this day he calls him Bhambha. Sigh!



Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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