Way back in 1963 when India was reeling under the pressures of the 1962 Indo-China war, and the scammed Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon was cooling his heels God knows where (perhaps in God own Country), a 16 year old village girl was falling in love.
Selvi was in love with the shepherd who took his 100 odd goats to the meadows, from in front of her house. He looked strong, had enough goats and had once smiled too – meaning he can be made happy. She decided to get married to him. But God had other plans for her.
Forty six years later, my mother tells me that she didn`t have the courage to walk up to her father and tell him that she loved a shepherd and NOT the Armyman he had planned for her. But as always happens, God had other plans…she married the Armyman – my father.
In stark contrast is what we experienced in Rhea`s Parents Teachers Association Meeting yesterday at Modern Montessori International at Gurgaon. Here is how it unfolds.
The watch man at the school gates looked at my two and a half years old daughter, who was safely cocooned in Rekha`s arms and said: “Hey Rhea, how are you and what plans for the weekend?”
I wanted to turn into a ventriloquist and speak out in Rhea`s voice: “Actually uncle, this weekend I plan to pee & shit in my diapers 13 times, mince my fingers in between the doors once, smell a rose bush and in the process pierce my nose with a thorn.”
But I didn`t because I can`t mimic Rhea, yet.
We then met the receptionist of the school – a very pretty lady. The problem with attending a PTA meeting is that, you can`t pretend that you are unmarried. Even if you manage to convince that you are unmarried, where will you hide your child? Let us say you are a Mr Natwarlal and manage to hide your child….what do you do with your wife?
Considering all these constraints, I didn`t look at the receptionist in the eyes and say: “You looking pretty, today. What do you think of me?” Besides, Rekha was right behind me.
[Know the famous Johnny Bravo line: “You smell kinda pretty. Wanna smell me?”]
But I did gather the courage to discuss the receptionist`s beauty with my wife.
“She is very pretty. Isn`t she?” I insisted.
“Every woman is pretty. And she is definitely pretty.” Rekha callously remarked.
“Should I compliment her?” I asked.
“Why? Are you her boy friend? Or Husband?” My wife has these pre-conceived notions that certain compliments can be given by only certain people.
“I don`t need to be her boy friend to compliment her. But if you want me to become her boy friend first and then compliment, I am fine.” A husband shouldn`t always be scared of his wife. He should learn to raise his voice when he is right.
The problem with being a very obedient husband is that you aren`t expected to raise your voice and when you do you are silenced with a killer stare.
Anyway, finally we got down to what we had come for – the Parents Teachers Association Meeting. Here is what Rhea`s teachers had to say about Rhea. As always, expert comments in the brackets have been provided by me.
1) Very affectionate child (just like how her father is with all the women)
2) Loves Rhyme Time (just like how her father is. At one point in his life he was multi-timing with Kavita, Geeta, & Sunita – all rhyming names)
3) She sticks to the single Malayali teacher in the Play Group (Differs with her father here. He holds no such communal bias when it comes to women)
As we were getting out of her class room, the maid who attends to the Play Group looked at us and laughed. She then pointed us out for another maid, who came running to see us. And laughed.
That`s when my antennae went up and I asked them: “What happened?”
Apparently, Rhea has a boy friend in school. His name is Yashyash. We were told they are always together…sitting in class, having snacks together and having lunch together.
We didn`t make much of it and went to the book exhibition that the school had worked out inside its walls. There we met five parents and all of them told us that Rhea and Yashyash are an item. One even said they were like Shahid and Kareena…oops…like Saif and Kareena.
Being a protective father, I asked the fifth lady parent: “How are you so sure?”
She was calm and replied: “I see them daily while dropping and picking up my son. They are always together.”
“Does Yashyash also travel in the same bus?” I asked.
“Please don`t think I am complaining but…yes…they hold hands and get onto the bus and sit next to each other,” She said sheepishly.
“And then?” I was fuming and curious to know the whole story.
“And then, they sleep off on each other,” She said. And added as an after thought: “I mean, they just doze off and get picked at their respective bus stops by their mothers.”
Post Script: On the way back, I did a litmus test of Rhea`s love. I asked her: “Rhea, whom do you love most?” I was hoping she would say ‘Appa` and Rekha was hoping she would say ‘Amma`….but Rhea ended up saying ‘Yashyash.`