Sunday, November 08, 2009

Collaboration

Little Zorro ( short for Zorawar ) Ruhi and Little Rayyan are park friends. This evening Zorro told Ruhi and Rayyan "Allah Tala is going to send Santa Clause to my house with lots of Christmas gifts, if I go to bed on time!"

Errr, right :)))

Edited to add :

I met Zorro's mom the other day and narrated the above conversation to her. She said she knew this because Zorro came home and told her that Ruhi had said "I don't go to bed on time but Allah Tala still sends Santa Claus to my house every year"

:)))))


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One more time.

'How do we know' posted a comment on an old post of mine, congratulating me on how well I had explained the concept of religious differences to Ruhi. Nothing could get more ironical and it touched a raw nerve, stirring me to write about what happened between Ruhi and me last Sunday...

There is a 'Maulwi Sahab' as he is called, who visits our home every weekend to teach Ruhi the Arabic alphabet and other things in that context. In all traditional muslim homes, at least in North India, it is a tradition to familiarize children at a tender age to the Arabic alphabet so that they can read the Koran before they come of age.

Ruhi started at 5 years and Maulwi Sahab would come every day but at the intervention of her school teacher, who felt that she was not being able to cope with 3 languages, the visits were reduced to the weekends.

I play the fence sitter's role since I do not have a strategy as far as my children's religious identity is concerned. As part of a Patriarchal society, I choose to accept that they will be called Muslims though I cringe on the rare occasion where I have had to write 'Muslim' in the school form. I would cringe equally if I had to write 'Sikh' in that space. I don't see them as either.

When the Arabic tuitions began, I took initiative to persuade the unwilling girl to sit and memorize a strange language. I would drag Ruhi from her Sunday morning cartoons to the decorated 'holy' man, who sat scowling at my undignified pajama - T shirt attire. As I understand, I must have a dupatta covering my head and upper torso in order to make an appearance before him. However it cant get more ridiculous to wear a Dupatta over a pajama night suit and then carry a protesting Ruhi over my shoulder to the carpet before him. I learnt to make do with his disapproving scowl.....

After a few months of this irksome Sunday morning routine I realized how brainless it was to force the child to study a language she did not understand without any context. And that I was basically acting on auto pilot, perhaps unknowingly, to gain the approval of a large orthodox family who would be happy to know how much pains I was taking for Ruhi's initiation. Since I had myself taken no great pains to fit in.

I gave up and announced at home, that if the Arabic lessons must continue, its got to be my husband or his folks who would have to make the effort to make Ruhi interested in it. And I was out of it, though the Sunday morning routine continues.

I often lock myself in the bathroom to avoid getting involved, sometimes I am called in to beg and plead with Ruhi. Sometimes when she gets too stubborn I am brought in to bully her into submission. I play my part and keep the peace.

With all this in the background, Ruhi has also been struggling with the concept of God for some time now. Her best friend Rhea has told her that only 'Sai Baba' was the 'real God.

During a weekend day spend at Rhea's house, she visited the Sai Baba Mandir with her family and came back happy and excited. She loved the temple experience was convinced, only Sai Baba was the "real" God!

Ruhi also loves going to the Gurudwara, and since she has a keen ear for music she loves to sit for the 'Kirtan'. From our trip to Amritsar she carried back one of those cheap lockets with a Guru Nanak picture on it and carried it in her school bag for several days referring to him as 'Sai Baba' !

She prays to the clay Ganesh figure she made at school and at other times sings Krishna 'bhajans'. She has a lingering, lovely voice.

I let it all flow till the day she announced to Kirti didi that she was a Muslim.

I realised it was time to introduce the concept of religion to her and more importantly to tell her about 'God' since very soon Maulwi Saheb would explain 'Deen' to her and that Allah was the one and the ONLY God. In her small world, It is a rather ambitious fight amongst Gods for supremacy and I didn't want a winner there !

I told Ruhi what I believe is the truth. That God is Goodness. If we are good, there is God in us. If we are bad, God goes away from within us. That if some people are more Good than others, they are more Godly than the rest and that those who are evil can also become God by driving out the 'Shaitan' in them. That God is not a man or woman or animal. That God is Goodness.

She resisted the idea initially but bought in when I told her that Mohammad, Ram, Nanak, Krishna are considered Gods because they were men who were more good than others. That they were examples of how good man can be.

That Rhea & her other friends had mammas and papas who came from the same backgrounds so such children may not understand or respect differences between people. And like Chinese are different from us and like fair people with golden hair and blue eyes are different from us, each one of us on Earth is different and that we must know and accept our differences.

That her father and I are different and we find our 'Godliness' in different things. So as our daughter she must know and accept more about differences between people, than other children.

"But, Mom who made the Earth ?"

" God made the earth"

"But God is Goodness..."

" But Goodness is also a power ...its energy and it creates..."

" Sometimes I understand but......sometimes I don't understand..."

" Don't worry baby, you will understand...."

And our conversations continue as I struggle to find the right answers.

While Ruhi raises her palms to reads the 'Kalma' when she bows to the 'Granth Sahib' at a Gurudwara and as she put her little clay Ganesh on a 'Janamaz' at home.

And so once again this Sunday as her father pleaded with her to attend her Arabic lesson, she kicked about and shouted, she would not study Arabic any more.

My mother in law who chaperons her Arabic lessons hushed her disapprovingly and I shut my mind to the proceedings thereafter and returned to reading my newspaper. There were noises of a great deal of fuss downstairs and as expected my helpless husband came back with a request to intervene. And as I walked into the room, I paused to listen.

Ruhi was saying to the Maulwi and my mother in law : " There is NO God" .

My mother in law, absolutely shocked by the blasphemy shouted " of course there is God, and he is ALLAH. Who told you there is no God ?"

'MAMMA DID"

There was stunned silence at this and strangely enough, I felt a deep surge of shame, guilt, anger and helplessness.

My voice was faltering as I called Ruhi just outside the door and said "Of course there is God"

I asked her to explain what she had just said to her grandmother. Ruhi was angry and irritated and she started screaming "You said God is goodness ? You said he is not man or woman ? So how come now you are saying there is God ? Does he have eyes ? Nose?....."

There were four people in that room with their eyes piercing through me. It is another thing to explain religion and such things to Ruhi in our intimate privacy and quite something else to explain in front of a judgmental Maulwi and a mother in law who has always maintained that my attitude was bad for the children, besides others.

I paused to gather my thoughts and started to explain that of course there is God and he is also called Allah and that he is not a man or woman but a spirit and energy. I pleaded with her to please finish her lesson and we could discuss this later. As children usually do, she noticed my hesitation, faltering and my desperation. She grudgingly sat down to read the 'Quaida' but she looked very sad.

As I turned back to go back to my room, she told her grandmother and the Maulvi. " Mamma is lying in front of you. She told me there is no God. Only Goodness".

Back in my room, I wept bitterly and cursed myself, cursed her and felt vanquished.

For the first time in 8 years I felt they were all justified in saying I'd screw up the kids life. I felt shame like I had never felt before and that Ruhi had let me down. I thought of all the times I must have made my father feel like this.

I made myself miserable for several hours until I resolved to start again, one more time.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

That's how much I feel...

She slipped me a scrap of paper when I came back from work the other day.

It looked like a tiny envelope and before I could explore what it was, she demanded I see what was inside.

There was another scrap of paper inside with some scribbled words that got blurry and wet as I stared. I didn't deserve her words, I told myself. But at least she knows we try.

I hugged her and turned away to hide my tears. For once I ignored that she misspelled 'Parents' ! She went her way, jumping about as usual. Its no big deal for her to write such things and to say them often. She has no clue how my heart swells when she casually does these little acts of love.

I hope this lasts, everyone says they change as they grow up


Monday, August 10, 2009

We are like this only !

Once upon a time, many years ago there was this mousy looking stick of a skinny girl who always walked in a straight line, with her head buried into her shoulders. She carried in her heart, the burden of many things big and small. She had been uprooted from all her childhood friends into a strange new city. The big bad Delhi. Her father had accepted a job transfer and she had come along with a heavy heart and many nights of crying bitterly into the pillow. Leaving behind a bitter childhood romance, kindergarten friends, the convent and the lazy dream of a life at RDSO.

She felt wretched for many months and it was in that state of mind, she found herself in a new school in Delhi. Her parents had chosen to stay close to her uncle's house, in the affluent Punjabi locality that reeked of vulgar ostentation, good cheer and everything North Indian. The school was an extension of that culture and she felt even more depressed. To make matters worse, she stood out like a sore thumb with her 'preppy' behavior, the teachers loved it but she became a butt of jokes with the rest. Maybe they loved to intimidate her because she was different. Maybe she threatened the culture of that place. She could not figure out the sniggering as she walked down the corridor to the class room everyday. Or the huge Sardar boy who followed her menacingly till the bus stop every afternoon as she hurried past that one deserted alley. The worst was this angry looking dude in her own class who stood diligently outside the room, staring ferociously as she walked in every morning. Over time as she made a couple of friends, the girls told her that this chap was the class rogue and to be kept away from. She once noticed he clicked her picture in class and was petrified of him after that. Those were the pre- mobile days and it was a actual camera he had got along to do this. She was apprehensive and upset but she had been ostracized enough after complaining about the burly sardar who followed her and she could live without some more trouble.

Months went by and a few days before Rakshabandhan he walked up to her with that picture he had taken and a Rakhi. He wanted her to be his sister. The girl panicked, she was sure this was some prank. But he kept insisting. So much so that one afternoon as she was rushing home as usual, he stopped her on the busy road and threatened to shoot her with a 'revolver' in case she did not agree. This was as Filmi as it could get and in true Bollywood style he barged into her house on the Rakhi day and much to the bewilderment of her shocked family, had her tie a Rakhi on his wrist. This was 25 years ago. And in the years that followed, they became friends and siblings by design. The school time toughie is now a mild mannered businessman and a father of two!

Rohit, my friend and brother, as special as my two younger siblings can be.

The context changed decades ago but the style hasn't changed a bit. In his true inimitable style he lands up at my door at the crack of dawn every rakhi day and drags me out of bed to tie the Rakhi and make him some cold coffee !! Yup, that's real stuff, I am not making it up.

We are like this only :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I will be the one who loves you, till the end of time.


Little Rayyan playing 'Mommy' to his grown up 'baby' sister !

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Week that was !

Indians, Punjabis, Muslims, Sikhs and thank you Happy Singh ! 
I walked into a fierce argument between the maid and Ruhi over the weekend. I found that Ruhi had called Kirti didi, "an Indian".  
Kirti told her, "Everybody is Indian".
Ruhi replied " I am not Indian, I am Muslim". 
Kirti said " You are also Indian" and the fight began.                  
I calmed Ruhi down and told her that Kirti Didi was right and explained how we live in a country called India so we all are Indians.                          
She kicked a fuss about it, said India was the name of a country. Just because we live in Saket, we should become Saketians ? etc. I was dumbfounded, my mind was ticking...how on earth did she know about being a muslim ? Who told her ? Did they explain it properly ? Why was she not curious about it?.                      
I decided to change the topic for the moment and look for a neutral ground to start it again.
Later, I found a quiet moment in the car as we traveled to her friend's house in Noida. 
I drew a map and explained to her the concept of countries and states. I put a dot each for Delhi, Bombay and for Goa. She was excited and wanted to know where Shimla was ! 
Then I  drew weird shapes to tell her where Punjab was and where UP was. I told her my parents were born in Punjab and Baba's parents were born in UP. That my parents were not just Punjabis but also Sikhs as they like to go to the Gurudwara, to keep their hair long and wear a turban and they are brave and happy people just like she has seen in the movie 'Singh is King'. 
She laughed at that. 
Then I said baba's parents were not just UPites but also Muslims which means they like to read Namaaz, eat Kebabs and wear nice clothes like Shararas, Ghararas, Sherwanis and that they are soft spoken, kind people who love art and culture. She wanted to know what culture meant. I simplified, "drama, art, dance" ( yeah right !) . 
I said I love to be Sikh and Baba loves to be Muslim. And we like each other's qualities so we got married and had kids. And so our children are half Muslim and half Sikh. 
So that makes you soft spoken, well dressed, talented, brave and a bit mad like Happy Singh. But over and above that we are all Indians like you are in class 2-A and Rayyan in Nursery-A but you both belong to the same XYZ School. 
She looked mighty pleased with that, giggled a lot and did a cartwheel from the seat to land in the boot of the jeep. 
Phew ! 
So there we are at the moment. I know it my bones that there will be many more questions to come. But I guess, I will cross the bridge when I come to it. 
Till then - Amen. 

The English language, Rayyan & Sunglasses.



We had gone shopping for a pair of summer sandals for Rayyan a couple of days ago and they sold both kids the most cheesy looking sunglasses.
                       
While I was paying for the sandals, a sales man walked upto Ruhi and whispered in hindi " Check out the new Katrina Kaif Sunglasses "! They both tottered away to the CatMoss sunglasses corner and got some ! 
Rayyan wore his through the evening till he fell asleep at night. Ruhi woke up the next morning and announced that the light in the bathroom was hurting her eyes. She brushed her teeth with sunglasses on ! 

When Rayyan opened his sleepy eyes he asked : My sunglasses ????
I said : You can wear them to to school today.
Rayyan : When is Today ?
Me : What kind of a question is that ? TODAY is TODAY. AAJ.
Rayyan : OH OK


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why I love being a Mommy !

Nat tagged me to do this. In fact I  was just waiting to be asked since I think I have this unique mommy feeling. Just like all the other mommies in the world !:) Thanks Nat.

Motherhood defines me. If I had only one thing to say about myself - I'd say I am a Mother. More than Wife, Daughter, Friend, Colleague, Sister...even more than Myself. That's a goddamn loser thing to say but its the honest truth even if I try to escape it. 

As things stand today, anything remaining of my own me-only life is squeezed out of what my children allow. If its a movie, its got to be the graveyard show, if its a dinner date bedtime is sacrosanct and I can only make it on days when there is no school next morning. Usually anything that does not involve kids does not happen on my weekends, however interesting, urgent important it may be, my laptop bag's got pink gum stuck to it and it won't come off.  My office desk has silly artworks from my kids and a gibberish letter Ruhi wrote to me last year. There is Boomer chewing gum and Cadbury Gems in my laptop pocket. My ipod's got Lion King music. I got no ambition and each time my boss asks me what I really want to do, my career plan ahead, I have twenty things in my head that just add up to being with my children some more. 

I suspect I do not deserve the love and attention of my husband, or my mother's affection or the space that my work allows me...or...or...since motherhood has devoured my life, every bit and piece of it and my mind is always wrapped up in diapers, homework, dental appointments, holiday plans, bedtime, household chores and vaccinations. BUT.... I'd have it no other way ! 

Why???

Because : )

1. It gives me the ONLY chance to re- live my childhood and micro manage it too. I never had much of a child hood anyway, so this is my trip back in time to set it alright. Its like healing. I google for music, games, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, play date ideas, origami - anything the doctor ordered for the perfect little made to order childhood. I do not want my kids to miss out on all that I missed. And I take it too far because in that perfect set up is a mother who never gets flustered and always delivers ! So never mind that it has given me high blood pressure, I love my event management job here !
 
2. I can blame all the weird quirks in my kids to my husband, his extended family and the ancestors.  Some riddance to the angst of having an alien - alien marriage ! So Ruhi is a hypochondriac and a sissy just like them  and Rayyan talks too much just like them and if anyone calls them good looking or bright or funny, well Ahem that could be because of my side ! I just love that fishing for ourselves in the little ones, whether we be there or not.

3. The feeling that I am super human ! Sometimes over weekends and school holidays when Ruhi is screaming her lungs out and Rayyan has poured toy buckets of water over my wood floor and they are tearing each others hair apart while I am trying to juggle stuff like fixing breakfast for house guests (my house could well be a guest house), telling the clueless maid what to do, and there is no milk in the fridge plus my phone is ringing, I feel a strong urge to run away from it all. You know just pick up my bag and car keys and GO. But thats never an option and it always blows over. And after every evening of driving back from work, feeding them dinner, bathing, homework, packing school bag, bed time stories, crisis (what's plural for crisis?) and tantrums I end up completely exhausted and nearly brain dead. But later when the house has gone off to sleep, I peer over their angelic faces, and I feel special and strong. Its worth it I know and in a few years the physical ordeal should be over and I can be easy on myself. Or so I hope.

4. Its made me a better human being ! Yup, I am more PATIENT, caring, honest, responsible, humane and all that blah. The motions of pregnancy and the idea of their complete dependance on me for everything and the responsibility for these tiny fragile lives has transformed me forever. I feel changed, not just fat and stretch marked but other crazy things I imagine - like I feel my hands look different - hard working, clipped nails, almost the doctor's hands and I don't miss the nail paint and manicures. The expression that see in my pics is different. Thats not the me I knew 7 years ago. Some where along the way, motherhood has also made me sensitive to my relationship with my own mother. Its made me respect and appreciate that invisible all encompassing thing called 'mothering' that we take for-granted, till we bear children of our own. She never got a thing alright but she is my mother and I know she must have tried. 

5. And lastly because it feels like heaven to be fussed over by my children. Sometimes when I come home from work Ruhi grabs my bags and lugs them to the room. I know she would have made the bed for me and some nimbu-pani. But of course the linen from the cupboard would be strewn on the floor and the lime peel and water would be all over the dining table but just that act of absolute affection turns everything else out of focus. Or when little Rayyan comes running like a rocket, wraps himself around my legs and does war hoops to celebrate my coming back home. Or that soft, wet kisses that he generously plants on my cheeks on demand. Or when Ruhi gently runs her hand over my forehead after a long day. Their silly gifts and notes. Nothing compares. Nothing ! 

Hmmmmm...as usual I deliver mush ! 

I would love to hear what these mommies  around the world have to say :

If you are doing this tag, please remember :
Guys, post 5 things that you love about being a mom/dad) and find someone to link to and tag - someone from your own country, if you like, but definitely someone from another country ..and to leave a link to the post at HBM,  who started this tag. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Four years just slipped by...



It was little Rayyan's 4th birthday on Saturday. We indulged him a lot and let him play King for the day. He lazed around the house like a pampered kitten as his sister fretted and fumed over party clothes to wear, games to play, balloons, candles, cake, music...if there was nothing left for fretting she would start inventing things.

I have an easy going relationship with my son. I have never had to work too hard to please him like I struggle to please his sister. Something as simple as pink lipstick on me makes him happy. Salwar Kameez after several westerns' days makes him happy. Fooling around makes him happy and the best time I've had in many years was day before yesterday when we both lay on our backs on the grass in the colony park and shouted like crazy at airplanes above our heads to "PLEASE please please pick us up ". He is funny and chilled out and  just like him, his four birthdays have been no-fuss too ! 

Except that I doubt if Rayyan fully understands how birthdays work since when the colony kids trickled in he happily grabbed the gifts and sweetly asked them to leave. I took him into a corner and asked him the matter. With all earnestness he told me that it was "his birthday" and he does not understand why other children should party. I explained to him how birthdays work but nada ! He opened the gifts and like a squirrel holed his stuff into some corner and waited for some more. His sister made herself pretty and entertained the little guests as per her plan. She has always been the party pro !


He cut his cake and then licked some. And happily repeated 'happy birthday' after every one who came over for dinner. It was a full house and a long day for me but he was up well past midnight, chirpy and full of beans. Long past I dropped dead to the world, till he quietly snuggled up to me with his favourite blue blanket and slept between my legs like a kitten ! 

p. s. Beats me why is he never the 'puppy' but always the 'Kitten' !

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Non Quantifiable Acts of kindness (or whatever)

In the movie Little Zizou, the little boy's technology geek older brother finally confronts his debauched father and calls him @#$%^&" humbug".

The father tell him how ungrateful the boy is and that he had taken care of the boy when he was ill (silence), brought him up (silence), kept him the house (silence) and even gave him a scooter to ride. At the last one, the technology geek older brother breaks into a wicked toothy smile as he dramatically takes out the scooter keys from his front pocket and shoves them in his father's shirt pocket saying something to the effect " so take it back now".

The boys pack stuff, pick up mom's b/w photograph and leave the house banging the door shut on the humbug dad. Feels good ! Retribution for that X@#$CV of a father.

I could not get over that bit for a long time after the scene was over. My brain was in a churn and I was thinking how it is a familiar feeling to return stuff to offending party ( OP) in any relationship - wedding rings, house, love notes, photographs, gifts of love, money..and that kind of squares up the equation. Its like, " here you wanted to be nice, romantic, loving, caring, condescending, kind to me, but now you can take it all back. I am rejecting your favours". But in case the OP has not just 'GIVEN' but instead 'DONE' stuff for you - Noun Vs Verb kind of thing :) the climate changes.

For example : 1) I took care of you 2) I stood by you 3) I was there when you needed me 4) I brought you up 5) I stayed awake the nights when you had Colic 6 ) I paid for your education 7) I tolerated your bad behaviour 8 ) I listened to you - ad infinitum. In such situations there is no way one can say, "hey I am going to do the same to you just now and square up".

These 'non quantifiable' acts of kindness can often be used like weapons in relationships. I pondered more over the next fist of popcorn and realised how I do it, most often telling my poor husband how I have "stood by him" through bad times. I've noticed how that shuts up any conversation. Thats like hitting the stumps since I presume he gets eternally burdened by that statement. I would too. I am sure if there was any measurable device of 'standing by' someone, he would just do it and square up on this for once.

It also set me thinking that I have with much effort in fact, stayed clear from being too often at the receiving end of '"I have DONE this for you" situations ! With of course the obvious exception of my parents. No one ever wanted to do favours for me, luckily so.

My Dad payed a capitation fee for my brother to study engineering & Bro later refused to make a living of it. He is regularly at the receiving end of a regular dose of " I paid for your education", "I took care of you", "I brought you up". " I am still bringing you up" etc.

While I do not at all feel sorry for him it reminds me of another scene where the buxom Parsi mom asks the preposterous kid, "How would you like it if you did not have a mother ?". Preposterous kid says, "I'd like it". LOL !

Friday, March 13, 2009

Juicy Grapes so yummy !


Today was Rayyan's School Fancy Dress show. In retrospect, I rue how soon I give up on Rayyan by presuming he will not measure up. I try so much harder with Ruhi. I am constantly surprised by him these days, which is a new feeling and I so like it ! 

For his fancy dress I dug my brains for the simplest costume that I thought he could carry off and created a 2 line limerick about 'juicy grapes'. He enthusiastically mugged and practiced his lines to call. Maybe I should have given him a longer poem since the other kids spoke so much more and it helped !

He is shit scared of balloons from the day one went bust bang on his face. Yet he bravely made peace with them on his D day. I tried to do a dress rehearsal for several days before Fancy dress but he did not let the balloons anywhere close to him. I was half certain he would refuse to put the balloons on his shirt. But he quietly stood at the back of my jeep outside his school, to let me tape them to his shirt.  He also patiently let the double sided tape sit on his head holding a tiny leaf patch. 

He looked very bright and cheerful till I left him at the steps from where he had to walk alone to the centre of the small stage. He walked up slowly and timidly looking very scared. The balloon on his right shoe fell off and I thought he was about to run back. I quickly moved up from the audience to sit at his feet holding his tiny cold hand. He was absolutely silent for a few seconds as the teacher urged him to speak on the mike. His eyes were locked into mine in a bewildered gaze and it seemed he had lost his voice.

I whispered hard to him "say good morning friends...". He paused some more and swallowed spit. I thought he was going to give up. But then he looked straight at the audience and said his lines loud and clear right down to the sprightly 'thank you'.

He did not win a prize and for once I did not mind it. Its taken baby steps to get here and this in itself is my biggest prize ! 

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Catterpillar to the Butterfly !

Little Rayyan led his class for the Sports Day march past while I searched for him among the last in the file of kids !

He has so completely transformed from where we began an year ago. And his teacher made all the difference - that grand old lady in front of him whom he calls 'Dadi ma'm" ! She calls him her "Little Puck". We love you Geita Ma'm.




Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Mom, are we Bengalis?"

Every evening, Ruhi and I spend some quality time together! She had come back late from a birthday party and after the regular run down on her asthma (she is going through a miserable attack that leaves her coughing and wheezing all day ) what she ate and what she didn't, the games and how she could not dance or run the conversation took another turn :

"Mom, are we Bengalis?"

"I don't think so Ruhi...why would you ask?"

"Hmm....some one at Sona's birthday party thought I was Bengali"

"Is that so? How come ?"

"She asked me my name and when I said it, she asked 'are you a Bengali?' Ruhi said smiling sheepishly

My heart was pounding harder than usual.."hmm...so what did you say?"

"I said I am a Punjabi" she said with a more sheepish smile and gave me a look that she has when she isn't sure. I stayed silent for more than a second till she asked "We are Punjabis, are we not Ma?"

"Your mom is from Punjab, but your father is ..."

"Oh I know it ! He is a Bengali !" she interrupts excitedly

"NO !!! He is from Uttar Pradesh..."

"Oh Ok"

I pondered if this was that moment I have been anticipating when I should introduce the concept of Religion, Caste, Creed etc. I felt unprepared...this wasn't something that I could delve into my mommy good sense for answers if she asked me a pertinent question. Specially since I noticed my husband look eagerly at me, waiting to hear the obvious explanation. I let the moment pass. Some other time, some other way.

Ruhi had moved on by then.

"Mom is 'senstitive' a bad word ?

'Sensitive you mean ?"

"yep, someone called me that...."