‘Patience…patience..,’ A tiny voice in my head tells me every time the boys test it to the absolute limit and beyond. Today morning it was, ‘Bhai is throwing my stuff’. Yesterday it was, ‘Vivaan is touching my book.’ Everyday is a new endurance test. Will she burst? Will she crumble? Will she soon chase us down with a mop in her hand? Ah! Patience mostly wins.
So this morning, being no different, went as expected – tears, fist fights, hidden diaries, touched books (dog-eared on purpose, that is), more fist fights and precisely ten minutes of quiet (while they had breakfast). By afternoon, we were all exhausted (add exasperated to my condition), the boys of kicking each other and I of just wondering in full Bollywood style, ‘Is there something wrong in the way I am bringing them up?’ The answer was…well nothing. Even the inner tiny voice had given up and the last I heard from her was when she egging me on to box both their ears.
Anyways, all said and done, we did manage to do a bit of work. I worked out a neat bargain with the boys. One sheet of ‘word of the day’ activity buys them an hour of fitness training at Kinnect. That works in my favour in more than one ways. I get them to expand their vocabulary and get them to sweat for an hour while they feel absolutely lucky to be blessed with me….the best mum in the whole world who lets us play on the Xbox! I nearly started seeing a halo around myself for being such a tolerant and what do they call it….Ah! Yes, a hands on mother (by the way are there any other kind? Never mind.)
With the Halo getting brighter I decided to use this hour of solitude to go strike things off the grocery list. In the nearby supermarket, I put random stuff in the shopping cart and moved to the end of the line at the billing desk. In the adjacent line, was a couple with an elderly lady (presumably the mum). My smile was intact and the ‘best, most patient mum halo’ firmly in place. I looked at the lady and wondered if she had a similar halo herself. I didn’t have to wonder too long. Here’s how it unfolded.
The lady was a little hassled. She couldn’t see the free soap promised on the pack of the detergent anywhere on the counter so in a hesitant voice she asked the cashier for the third time, “Son, where is the free soap mentioned here?” She obviously was new to the concept of a supermarket and didn’t know there was a separate counter for claiming all the freebies after the billing. The son who was busy putting the stuff on the counter to be billed, glared at her and growled, “Oh ho! Keep quiet ma! We will get it later.” Lots of people turned to look. The fallen look on the lady’s face is going to stay with me for a long time.
Yup. She has the ‘patience halo’ alright. What else would explain her resistance to the temptation of whacking the living daylights out of him for talking to his mum like that? Is it really patience? I think not…It’s helplessness….Its fear. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being confined to lonely, dark solitude. Helplessness at the hands of the heart.
I wanted to stop that man and ask him if twenty years ago when he tested her patience, was he told off like this? There must have been so many things that he must have done to test her patience and love to no end. Yet parents don’t stop loving their children then how come once the roles are reversed, so are emotions? All he had to do was nicely point out the freebie counter to her, that’s all. Our parents didn’t really catch on the world outside probably because they were busy bringing us up, making sure we knew what was going on around. So, how long does it take to explain that new gadget, the whole idea of social networking or for that matter the escalator in the mall? Not much time or patience for that matter. At least, lesser patience than what they had to keep while teaching us to hold a spoon or tie that shoe lace.
I usually go for a walk in the neighbourhood park and often end up eavesdropping on conversation (unwittingly of course!) of this particular group of older women who also walk around the same time. There is always a similar undercurrent in their exchanges – all they hope to achieve is tolerance. They hope to be just tolerated by their children enough to be able to stay a part of their family. They want to be a part of their grandchildren’s life, celebrate their birthdays and Diwali with them. Sadly, that is too much to expect. I say that because, I, being the professional eavesdropper, also overheard a bunch of young women lamenting about how the ‘in laws’ arrived unannounced! Unannounced?? To their child’s home? Sigh!
On all popular social networking sites, I see people ‘liking’ pages about respecting our parents and ‘not abandoning them’ but there would be no need for such pages if we just did our small bit. Be patient. Be tolerant. Too much to ask for, is it? When they ask you what time you’d be back from the movies at night (even though you are 35), they are not encroaching on your privacy, they are just concerned. When I see my boys I see infants in them. When their grandma sees her son, she sees an infant too. I am not saying that parents are always right and can never get on your nerves. I hear you when you say it’s not the same everywhere and that sometimes it can be a test. But when you were a baby, your so called ‘over –possessive, insecure’ mum put up with a lot of nerve wracking moments while bringing you up. I am also not saying I am the ideal daughter (or daughter in law for that matter) – that, if left to the parties in question would in fact result in an epic of a novel! Having said that, I don’t ever see myself feeling embarrassed about either of my folks (genetic or by virtue of law!) asking the cashier about the free soap. So, as long as you and I are aware of the right thing to do, I guess we can keep our halo.