An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Coming of Age Part II by Anjanaa Chattopadhyay

rup-suv2.jpgI would like to say right at the beginning that this is not an account of how I brought up my kids but how THEY brought me up. I whole-heartedly believe that my children gave birth to a mother in me, and changed the person I was……and much more !

Seeing my two lovely sons grow up was quite an experience! They took me to the verge of nervous breakdown every other day…so much so that when I faced some real crisis later in life, I sailed through without a glitch! But that’s another story. Here I’ll tell you how my children contributed to my growing up years of parenthood, i.e., my coming of age Part II!

Both my sons had exceptionally good appetite (tut tut) but I’d give credit to Rupam my eldest for teaching me the extraordinary feat of sleeping while preparing his baby food in the bottle. I was forced to learn this art as he was up every half hour announcing his humongous hunger. That was a thing he taught me while still in the womb – to be humongously hungry, always. How many times he coaxed me into savoring half a dozen shingaras (samosa) at one go or waking up in the middle of the night to polish off a tin full of biscuits! It was fun, and I’d love to maintain the habit if not for these kharoos modern doctors and their fuzzy concepts of health!

Born on a chilly morning in December, Rupam was the epitome of liveliness. He never rested nor allowed me a moment’s rest during those shivering winter nights — I later learnt that it was the coldest winter in ten years! But oh what a bundle of joy he was! His constant giggles and cackles reverberated through our small little room and filled it with contagious laughter.

Rupam made us so fond of kids that we soon had our second son Suvam. In the midst of summer this time! If Rupam taught me the meaning of being ‘active’, Suvam taught me the meaning of being ‘cool’. With the extra alertness acquired from my Rupam experience, I used to be gripped with panic when Suvam lied deep in slumber for hours. How many times I missed a beat and stretched out my trembling hand to feel for his breathing… and then his diaper. He breathed peacefully in a pool of pee…without protest! What an angel he was, especially beside his tornado of a brother!

It still amazes me how two boys grown in the same womb to the same parents can be so different in nature! Rupam was extrovert , boisterous, adventurous and a born entertainer – singer, dancer, actor, jester, footballer all rolled in one whereas Suvam was shy, quiet, introvert, selective about friends, avid reader and addict of indoor games like chess and PS and his sense of humor was more subtle and intellectual. Rupam was open and straight forward; he’d talk and argue and fight until everything is sorted and ironed out. He’d then make up with a huge bear hug. Suvam on the other hand was quiet and reserved; you’d have to work hard to wade through his silence and reach his verbose self! It was both exciting and exasperating to deal with two such opposites!

Things became extremely interesting when they reached their teens. I learnt many new things during this period. Like the importance of a cluttered room – you get to find your things immediately! Or to communicate on the phone without being heard. And then the crucial course in Patience first during the four year long board examinations phase (they studied one year apart!) and then the college years! After a roller coaster ride laden with surprises (some not so pleasant), they graduated in their respective subjects and I Mastered in Patience and forbearance!

I read Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ as a young college student. It had an immense impact upon me, especially his words on children: “Your children are not your children. …. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer bends you with His might so that His arrows may go swift and far.” They were just beautiful words then; today, after journeying through half a century, I’ve understood the profound meaning behind those beautiful words. Now I know how it feels to let go the arrow ‘swift and far’ and still be happy! That’s the biggest gift from my children: a new ME!

I wanted to mold my kids; instead I got molded by them! Do you think I am fit to advice moms on children? If you still insist I’ll just say – Grow and let grow! Don’t try to mold your children. You won’t succeed. Because ultimately “You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.” (Kahlil Gibran)

Author Bio: Born, brought up, studied, dated, mated, married and became a mom in Kolkata. Taught in college and then high school for 12 years in Kolkata. Was also a columnist for Aajkaal (newspaper). Moved base to Mumbai in 1998. Presently working as Freelance Bangla copywriter for renowned Mumbai based ad agencies, regular contributor to ABP Mumbai Patrika and a Social worker.

Somanjana’s Note: Anjanaa, my maternal aunt whom I call ‘phoolmashi’ has been the most fun person I’ve ever known. I remember our crazy busy weekends at her Kolkata residence where Rupam, Suvam, me and a bunch of other kids would turn her place upside down. I must be about 6-7 years old then, Rupam and Suvam being mere toddlers, just beginning to walk. Little later, we would have our outings ‘out’ at Victoria Memorial or some park when she would happily join in our pranks and foolhardy. Much later, when I was in college, I barged in her posh Mumbai residence once with hoard of my college friends on a rainy afternoon. She gave us food and shelter and much needed guidance to charter through the internship program and our very first tryst with independent existence. So much so, that a few of my collegemates still turn to her for advice and guidance. In course of time, we all grew wings and flew apart, but when I feel the urge of familiar, comfort nesting, I look back at her, to find her still smiling her welcoming smile, being there for me like she’s always been. Forever.

PS: The pictures are of Rupam & Suvam as toddlers, Rupam with Anjanaa, Suvam with Anjanaa

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