Thursday, June 23, 2011

The little girl in me

Somebody once told me “A South Indian parent’s love for their kid is directly proportional to his/her marks in Math and Science!!” I couldn’t agree more.

Studies was the focal point growing up. Mum would debar relatives from coming home during exam time (she still does). I remember sitting through dictation lessons with her. It was pure nightmare. I sucked at spelling and even after her herculean efforts I still do. Dad on the other hand is a different story. Unlike text book dad’s, he never had the patience to read to me or teach me. That was mum entirely. In a way, I thank my stars he didn’t teach me. I remember dreading Open-house days where he scrutinized the mathematics paper and knuckled me for every silly mistake. The evaluations ended with a standard line every year “do these sums 50 times, I’ll check by evening”. Needless to say such evenings never came. Patience level zilch!

Dads are known to be protective of daughters and daughters are known to be possessive. While we are that, we are also competitive. Dad was never known to play nice. His advice was always ‘play your cards close to your chest’. Even if it were a mere Rummy game, he played to win, by hook or by crook.

If dad was challenging, mum was encouraging. While dad made it impossible to win mum showed me fight is the only way out. ‘Go fight your own battle’ she once told me when I came crying home from a fight in school; ‘I don’t have time for them’. Blind faith was never propagated. There was more encouragement when I rejected an idea than when I meekly accepted one. ‘Question everything and accept only when you run out of questions’.

My fondest memory is being jolted awake on a school day morning with mummy’s repeated wake-up calls; and as she desperately tried to get me ready for school I would sneak away and groggily run full throttle in to the hall, to see daddy clad in a lungi hidden behind the huge news paper and rocking his knees back and forth in contemplation. I remember wriggling between the paper, snuggling up onto his overlarge tummy and steeling away few more minutes of blissful sleep while rocking to a rhythm similar to a train in motion. In that rhythm I found safety. I knew dad would not give me away to a frantically searching mum, even if it meant he had to drop me to school that day. ‘Late Kate’ he would then tease.