Four years back, I tasted my first winter here in Gurgaon. Not really my first…coz as a small kid I have stayed in Jalandhar for three years and tasted bitter winters before. But as an adult it was my first time.
The difference between tasting winter as a child and as an adult is that in the latter, you are the one making all the decisions. The fact that I believe I was a bear in my previous birth also doesn’t help – half the time I am thinking if I should be hibernating instead of living my life outside of the bed.
When I was a child, my mom would heat the water for me, give me a bath, wipe me, rush me to the bed and wrap me in a warm rajai (warm blanket in Hindi), make me wear my Kendriya Vidhyala uniform, pull down the sweater from over my head, make me wear the shoes….and ensure I was ready for the cold winter.
When I wet the bed (which included a Rajai), she never complained and dried it in the sun the next day even as she asked me: “”Why didn’t you wake me up, if you had to pee?”
I remember saying: “But ma, I promise every time I wet the bed, I was dreaming that I was actually in the washroom.”
I even remember having dinner when cocooned inside the Rajai.
Winters back then didn’t seem as harsh as they seem now. Guess I need to thank my mother for that. Now that I have to take all the decisions myself…it seems difficult.
Should I wake up at 6 am or stay back in bed till 7 am? Tough call isn’t it?
Should I have my tea inside the Rajai or should I have it with rest of the family at the dining table?
Should I heat the water or should it be cold water? Especially since my 65 year old father in law still struts out of the bathroom half naked after taking bath in cold water. I swear he does it to show my wife what a pussy I am.
Should I even take bath daily? If I am not taking bath, should I spend time inside the washroom and come out after ten minutes after wetting the hair…so that others in the family don’t know that I didn’t take bath.
Should I wear a warmer inside the shirt, and then wear a sweater outside? If I wear a warmer, should I tell my mother in law, who has only a cotton saree draped around her when she stands in the balcony sipping her morning tea?
Should I wash my face in cold water after I come back from office? If not, should I stay inside the washroom with tap water running….and pretend to be fresh when I come out?
Should I get out of the Rajai at 3 am to go to the washroom or should I just pee inside the Rajai and pretend it was my daughter who peed?
The decisions are tough, and they make the winter even more bitter.
What makes it even more difficult is the fact that my father in law and mother in law just don’t feel the cold.
“Father, please wear a sweater….or you will catch a cold.” I remember saying 20 days back.
“You can cover yourself all you want, but I bet you will catch a cold before I do.” My arrogant father in law replied.
“Whats the bet?” I was sure he would succumb. After all, he was 65 years old, he wasn’t covering himself in sweaters and shawls. And if that wasn’t enough, I could always feed him curd and ice cream…and bring him down.
“You tell me.” My still-arrogant father in law commanded.
“How about you sponsor a trip for the whole family to Phi Phi Islands in Thailand once you catch the cold?” I have always wanted to visit Phi Phi islands….and thought it was a great way to earn a free trip. Besides, Rekha never bought any dowry….and such bets were the only way to milk my father in law.
I lost on the 16th day of the bet. I tried to hide my cold & cough….but there is little you can hide when the morsel of food you just put inside your mouth flies out during a stifled cough and lands on your father in law’s plate.
I am now taking the whole family to Phi Phi island.
It is not just the in laws who are mutants. Rekha herself is able to bear the cold a lot better than I am able to.
“Anything, you are eating that I am not eating? ” I asked my wife sarcastically one day.
“Nope…nothing. I always give you what I have myself. The only thing I didn’t share with you in the last 5 years together are the pregnancy pills. But why do you ask?”
“Why don’t you feel cold?” I enquired.
Before my wife could answer, my three and a half year old daughter pulled at my sweater and said: “Appa, please wear your slip ons….or you will catch a cold.”
I could have swore my wife’s family had been tutoring my daughter against me. But I haven’t been able to get any evidence against them except for that one time when my daughter said: “Amma says you are like a small baby.”
BTW, just in case you didn’t know Amma in Tamil means, Mother.
If only my family knew the Japanese proverb: “One kind word can warm three winter months.”