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...."