There was no birthday bash, no momentous trip, in 2021 as Roddur turned 14 on the 7th of Feb, covid still prevailed. We just visited a local nursery, the day being a Sunday. He doesn’t show any natural inclination towards the potted or soiled lives but does help out when called for.
Grade 8 turned into grade 9 but Anoush remained in his high back chair at the same desk looking at the same desktop. A little solace – Nanda in the same section!
Life didn’t change much for him; he had comfortably settled his life around his dabba (as I call his desktop) much to my discomfort.
Outwardly there was calm, but inside him turbulence was growing. The rebellion that had started at the advent of teens had now caught steam. Discussions were now more heated and difficult to take control of. The argumentative Indian had become more rooted in his beliefs backed by researched facts. His quote – “Everybody has the right to enjoy. Fun is what we live for.” After loads of counselling it changed to – “Everybody has the right to enjoy, not always but as and when possible.”
Anoush took part in a new thing called MUN – Model United Nations. He was to pose as MLA Rajiv Ranjan from JDU. This gave him a simulated but first-hand idea about how the parliament works when in session. Almost overnight he learned about constituencies, laws, bylaws and what not. He enjoyed the exhilarated screams while discussing with his teams mates. Planning a strategy and convincing his mates taught him an art that he was hitherto unaware of – being our only child and having very little needs and most of them being fulfilled without him uttering much.
Here at such a broad arena, across schools, he had the need and urge to put forth his idea and convince. It was a great learning experience for him and he derived much pleasure. He also understood this was not the arena where he wanted to play.
Half yearly exams were scheduled in offline mode but I was not ready to expose him, so while Nanda and a few others wrote their papers in school, Anoush and a few wrote at home.
Roddur loves the beach and since I wanted a vacation particularly for him during the dusserah(October) hols, it had to be a beach, Rajib loves historical places and Goa had been on his radar for some time, so Goa it was! Anoush enjoyed the beach to his heart’s content while Rajib covered quite a bit of his aspired targets. I could not go around as much as I would have loved to but then I am just happy being on the move.
By November I saw quite a change in my little baby; though he would still put the rod of the water scraper in the bathroom’s exhaust fan while it was running and broke a blade, the explanation being that he wanted to see if the blade stopped when it came in contact with the rod, his next plan was to put in his finger; there was something different about him.
For one he was more confident than ever. I overheard him saying – “I can sing.” He actually can, has melody in him just not interested to manifest it to be a trained singer. Same with the guitar, if he wants he can do much better than just play what is taught – but simply not interested. Am happy that his Guitar sir Mahesh Babu is so patient with him, he is an extremely honourable person in his own rights.
This year too he bagged many accolades – the usual SOF Olympiads and a few more. He scored a 100 on BRICSMATHS – an online exam based on logic; he got overwhelmed with the congratulatory wishes he got from his classmates, teachers and even Principal madam, who called him personally.
The major change I am delighted about is the sense of achievement. I feel he has finally caught up with the idea that he is capable of achieving what he wants given the right amount of effort. And he is giving effort!
Be it an external project or school’s; be it exam preparation or group activity – I find him working with deadlines, going beyond the stipulated timetables, rescheduling them if necessary and driving other team mates along with him.
But what makes me the happiest is that he is still that humble non-judgmental beautiful boy at heart. A natural leader, he believes he can lead not because he is in any way better than the others but because he can instigate the others to put forth their best and collate.
Here I think his classmates have played a big roll, Aryan, Pranav, Ivana to name a few – they appreciate each other, are vocal about each other’s talents – that largely boosts confidence and makes each one realise their strengths. Anoushrayan had also had wonderful teachers Radhika(Maths ma’am and class teacher), Kavitha(SST ma’am), Roopa(English ma’am), Prajacta(Hindi ma’am), Shivshakti(computer ma’am) and Science ma’ams(Renu, Garima and Subarna) who shaped different facets of his personality.
In December we went to an interesting place called Vaama Resort – a pet friendly place – so Domma, Zhauwu, Roddur, me and Rajib drove for around an hour and checked into a cosy cottage that the resort had allotted us. The resort is actually a camp for obstacles training for civilians run by a retired Colonel and his team.
My otherwise hunched, laggard non-sporty boy – did well! Not only was he able to do them all he did them well. Roddur always amazes me, sometimes at the zip line or at horse riding – he can be a good sport but physical endeavour simply doesn’t excite him. This year the exams have come early, in February and as if both to tease and to appease – computer practicals are scheduled on his birthday!
14 and growing steadily, Anoushrayan’s eyes lit up when I brought the old cot from the other flat and arranged it in his room. This has been his favourite bed, being a tad higher than usual and just the right size for him and his babyhood companions namely Balu, Sheru and Nalu – the soft toys – I wonder how long this fellowship will continue!
“Can I sleep here?” he said with that beautiful smile, tilting the neck to a side. “You want to sleep here? Alone?” I inquired. “Yes, you always wanted me to sleep alone in my room, isn’t it?” he said confidently.
I was supposed to feel happy and in-fact the whole idea of getting the cot was to instigate the urge in him to sleep alone and yet something in me stirred a sad undertone.
Imposition has been the norm for human beings; sometimes the pretext of tradition and culture, sometimes to establish authority and most of the times to ensure well being, especially if it concerns younglings.
But I do not believe in imposing unless it is the last resort in the harm’s way.
As an infant Anoushrayan cherished the cuddles and would protest fervently if kept off the lap. He refused to even lie down beside us, mom or dad would let him sleep on their chest, and there he basked in the warmth. People advised that the infant must be taught that he must lie in his cot and would not be picked up every time he creates a ruckus. I did not comply.
Days turned into months and he outgrew the lap, ready to explore the world with his toddling feet. I felt happy to not have complied, now I could not confine him in my lap even if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to, I have had my share of a warm lap, wet with drools and giggles making me the happiest person on earth.
Next was to teach him to sleep on his bed alone. My counterparts in the west, and even the in-country buddies along with quite a few books suggested that a child must be taught things early on. I did not comply.
So he slept latched on to us, initially between me and Rajib and later with me. After he became 12, I started insisting on sleeping in his room on his bed but he vehemently refused. Once his friends visited us and happened to say, ‘so this is your room’, Anoushrayan denied.
He didn’t want a room of his own complete with a bed and study. His categorization was – my study room, my sleep room (where I slept with him).
Thus a decade and more passed, all of us hurdling on the bed together, two humans, 3 soft toys and for the past one year, added to the list were two doggos. I had always complained how I could never get a sound sleep with this bunch. In his early childhood Anoushrayan used keep changing his position and would invariably end up taking up the bed diagonally leaving me hanging.
From a tiny little doll sized being whom I was scared of crushing by my weight, he has now grown to a size that can engulf me. And now he is ready to sleep alone. He wants to enjoy his being. This is the beginning of discovering his individuality and gaining confidence. Once again I am happy I did not comply and let him sleep with me as long as he wanted.
My mantra was and is to keep myself prepared to let go as and when he is ready but not push him into an unpleasant imposition. Although Anoushrayan is unable to sleep alone as of now; even though I did, albeit with a tug at the heart – looking at the big empty bed all to myself, the doggos won’t let go of their ‘dada’.
I love to see things grow, and a human baby is one of the most intriguing of all. All this time since birth to his 12th birthday, Anoushrayan had been changing slowly – the face, the structure, the voice and the abilities.
But then all of a sudden things started changing so rapidly that it was like riding a whirlwind. I wouldn’t say I could no longer recognize my child, it was not that dramatic but there were things which I needed time to cope with.
To begin with there had always been discussions and long chats but now they turned to heated arguments. Anoushrayan was never ready to take my words on face value; I had to prove everything by showing it on google – a concept I introduced him to, but now that he was knowledgeable enough to form his own opinion, or so he thought, he would debate even the established ideas. His ‘WHY’ haunted me day n night.
His memory had been sharp but now it became sharper and yet the scores started dropping from the usual 100%. The reason was none other than the multitude of fancy fantasies that had started making his head their home. From Harry Porter to Percy Jackson to Ravagers to what not – featuring demi-gods, artificially intelligent life forms, all crowd his mind space. Anoushrayan always an avid reader; reads the stories intently and then makes different versions of them on his own. He then plays them in his mind over and over again, chants the dialogues and sometimes enacts them too. He has turned out to be an acclaimed script writer and is asked to do the same for most school projects.
We had decided to skip travelling out of town in the summer of 2019 as Rajib had to get his cholcystectomy done and would need time to recover. So I started looking for horse riding classes, Anoushrayan had been keen on riding since early childhood but it had really taken his fancy since the ride in Pahalgam, Kashmir where we went in 2018.
I found one that could suit my budget, horse riding is an expensive affair. It was a bit far off yet we signed in, for a preliminary course. We had to go early morning but it being summer helped. The drive was refreshing for the most part, and the place was absolutely delightful. Huge grounds with trees around. The horses were tall, much taller than the ones we rode in Pahalgam.
Anoushrayan took to riding as fish would to water. The head coach who is also the owner of the place – a retired army colonel, was impressed by his natural ease. Though tiring I felt this was worth the long drive and the early wakeup regime even in hols, we are owls – night people, all three of us and early mornings are not our thing.
He was so much at ease that I thought having some shared genes I could give it a try too. But the moment I got up on the beast I was certain I did not share the riding genes in particular. I was very very scared. Over the days I did get a bit comfortable but I am definitely not a rider material.
Over a period of two weeks Anoushrayan picked up trot and canter. The horse seemed to respond to him well. Though it would not be possible to continue the classes once school started, we discussed the possibility of coming back in the breaks.
As planned we bought a Duster just a day before the last day of the horse ridding class, Rajib was fit to drive by then. The last day was a Sunday, Rajib came along as we had planned to dine out on the way back home, may be after a bit of a longer drive to give our Duster a good run.
It was my last riding day as well; we – the not so riding savvy adults were taken for a short ride away from the arena where the budding riders were practising, Anoushrayan being one of them. We were on our return journey, the time having got almost over and then we heard a cry and saw a commotion inside the arena from a distance. Once we reached I saw Anoushrayan on the ground and a lot of people around him. Rajib looked nervous.
Our humpty dumpty had a great fall. The way he explained the fall was hilarious and gave a glimpse of the naive baby that he still was. He knew he was falling from almost a height of 7ft or more and yet he didn’t think it might break his bone. He didn’t think of rolling over or giving cushion to his head, hands or legs simply because he thought nothing would happen after all, nothing ever happened to Tom and Jerry!
There was a doctor on spot and he apprehended a surgery. Anoushrayan was in great pain but he was upbeat and was trying to analyse what might have happened. We rushed to Narayana Multispecialty Hospital in Whitefield that would be nearest to our home as we anticipated multiple to and fro visits. Also having got Rajib’s surgery done in there, we were quite satisfied with the facilities of the place.
Anoushrayan was taken to the emergency ward and diagnosed with ‘Left elbow posterior dislocation and fracture epicondyle’. So 21st Apr 2019 Anoushrayan was admitted to a hospital for the first time in his life in order to have the surgery performed on him. He turned out to be a brave fellow, quite excited to undergo such an experience.
I was not nervous but definitely worried. The late night surgery took quite some time but all went well. The healing would take time, the doctor said and even after a good deal of physiotherapy the elbow might never regain its original position.
I am an optimist and so is Anoushrayan, so we didn’t pay much heed to the nay saying and rather focused on getting a proper physiotherapy done. So we spend the summer vacation visiting the physio lady near our home, and a good job she did. Within 3 months Anoushrayan was completely cured with hardly a tiny mark of the accident.
I had always wanted a pet, a dog to be precise. Rajib also loves pets, he felt very de-stressed when Limca was around. We had also fostered another puppy called ‘Poppy’ for a few days. Both Rajib and Anoushrayan had wanted to keep Limca or Poppy but I was not in a condition then so I promised him a pet once he was 12. So that he can share the responsibility of looking after the pet. He readily agreed. But we figured that summer rather than his birthday month February, would be a good time to bring in the new baby. Thus came Dogmatix in May. A month old shihtzu baby hardly the size of our palm.
The new school session started and Anoushrayan was bowled over by the sheer size of the campus and its grounds. He liked the ambience. Over the months he faced a mixed bag of emotions from his classmates. He faced hostility and humility for something which we were not made aware of till then – apparently he spit while talking and the boys did not take it lightly. The spitting problem could have been an outcome of the braces.
Anoushrayan proved to be good even amongst a good lot, but he started facing good competition and that enthused him. He tried harder and though he failed to score a 100 every time he was close and thus established himself as an academically bright student.
We travelled to Chikmagaloor in August in our duster along with Dogmatix. It was Anoushrayan’s first experience of staying in a coffee estate and he loved the laid back no hoping around trip.
I had planned for a fitness focused summer vacation, which of course did not really materialize but I had been looking for opportunities to get Anoushrayan into some sort of physical sport. The idea came from his classmate’s mother. Her son was into Basketball and since Anoushrayan had an interest about the sport we thought of giving it a try.
It was a real game changer. Anoushrayan emerged from a chubby fellow rounded in the middle to a somewhat elongated boy with a flat tummy. His muscle mass increased, fitness levels enhanced and he started showing off his strength, to the poor mommy of course.
In October we went on a road trip in our duster again with Dogmatix, this time to Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal Aihole and Chitradurga. Anoushrayan had visited Hampi earlier in 2011 but he was a little baby then all of 5, perched up on us most of the time. This time however our 12 year old was my able companion as we went up the Matunga Hill. It was easier to handle Dogmatix with Anoushrayan around as we went on a coracle (round basket boat) ride in the Tungabhadra river that flows beside the ancient grand temples of Hampi.
Right after we came back, we brought Zhauwu, another Shihtzu baby, a month old again. The breeders want to do away with the babies as soon as possible and do not wait till the prescribed 2 months. I feel everyone needs a friend of his/her own kind and so I had planned for two puppies together but that didn’t happen so our doggo babies are 5 months apart. Dogmatix was a full grown Shihtzu at 6 months and Zhauwu was a tiny little thing. He was a complete opposite of Dogmatix; while Dogmatix kept to himself mostly, allowing us to pet him at his will, Zhauwu was always licking and wagging his tail.
Anoushrayan wanted to pet Dogmatix and had been bitten and snapped many times, now with Zhauwu he was free to do rolly polly and licky and whatever his heart desired, finally he had the pet he had always wanted.
In November we shifted to a new housing complex, AWHO Sandeep Vihar, on rent, leaving our small 2bhk flat in Sai Sarovar to the tenants, as we wanted to have more space and amenities for the babies – mine and the adopted ones. For the first time we were staying in a flat that had 4 bedrooms and was more than 2000 sq ft, even Anoushrayan, who is not much concerned about where we stay, was reverential.
Anoushrayan took a few rounds of the campus, which is quite a big one with loads of amenities and is quite delightful, for a couple of days on-foot and cycle (dad had been teaching him to cycle and now he was a pro), and then lost interest; he is anyway the ‘comfortable@home’ kind of person.
In December we went to the Andamans again keeping in mind Anoushrayan’s love for beaches, most of our holidays and trips are now planned in accordance with his holidays and preferences. He loved the sea and the pristine beaches, the boat rides and the overall tranquillity.
1st January 2020 we were back to Bangalore all set for another round of exams – the school’s third term, SOF second level and finally the final session ending exams in march, and thereafter a trip to London and Scotland in summer.
Rajib went to London for a couple of days; his usual office trip and I invited a few of Anoushrayan’s new friends for a small get together. Two of his friends, namely Nandagovind and Vedant were to stay back overnight, this was a first time experience for Anoushrayan and he enjoyed it thoroughly.
We were a tad worried about our visas but all was done in good time by the beginning of February. Anoushrayan entered into teens on the 7th of feb 2020.
And then came, the news first and the embargoes next. The final exams were cancelled hardly after they had just started, within 2 days. The children were all promoted to the next grade nevertheless.
So it was a novel experience for all of us owing to the novel corona virus, being imprisoned in our homes. Anoushrayan was indifferent to the situation. He feels he has everything he needs to entertain himself, at home; in-fact he even cherished the idea of not having to go to a cold place as London/Scotland. The only thing he started missing after a while was food – outside food. His favourites are Subway, KFC, Pizza, pasta and sandwiches/burgers.
Once again my plans for a physical activity laden summer went out of the window. Instead Anoushrayan read a lot of story books, played a lot on his comp and also studied a good deal. He also started learning Guitar.
Anoushrayan was now well into 13 and the colours were showing loud and bright. He was highly distracted at all times. Focus was almost nil. School started online and that gave him the opportunity to be online more often than I would have preferred.
The biggest change in my lad – he started lying often and on. It was as though he was unable to control himself. He started reading stories on some sites while the teacher was teaching in class and when I questioned he would deny. Being a not so seasoned liar he would easily get caught then apologize but then do the same thing again.
His scores fell, missing out a mark or two in almost every subject. But amazingly fared very well in adapting to the online system, together with another friend he found loopholes to chat with certain people he wanted to talk to.
We never had any dreams for him. We are committed to support him in anything that would catch his fancy. He had first wanted to become a sweeper, as the broom was the most exciting thing and our maid always has to sweep while he was asleep or away at school lest he would take it away from her. Next was the garbage truck driver, who he felt drove such a fascinating huge truck and must be oh so powerful. Then he wanted to become a genetic engineer and a scientist and own a farm where a huge number of animals would be housed. He is sticking to it till now.
All our efforts are focused to help him fulfil his dream. He wants to join IISc or IIT; though he has the potential, he is getting driven by his hormones and is getting derailed from the path that might lead to accomplish his desired task. I literally have to work on my nerves to keep him steady on the path by screaming like a banshee most of the time. This is by far the most challenging task I have assigned myself to. Anoushrayan is also trying hard, fighting his hormones, my poor naive teenager. He is righteous and sincere to the core, hardworking and quite an obedient fellow. He respects others, has a very soothing behaviour and has an intelligent streak of humour which is pleasing.
Anoushrayan has been assigned many household tasks and though it took months he slowly managed them well without my surveillance. He is quite capable of taking care of himself and his pets now though he tends to play the baby whenever am around.
Anything digital, the younger generation picks up fast; he also became quite adept in taking shots of the homework and uploading them through which looked like quite a complicated process to me. Though he did miss uploading some tasks on-time, he was more or less consistent. Interesting were the exams, where they had to write on paper in a stipulated time, get the parents to sign it and then take snaps of the answer sheets and upload them in a stipulated time.
After the half yearly exams we started braving the outside in October. We started eating outside food, though nominal. We took a short day trip in our car to Kolar, about two hours from our place. Dogmatix and Zhauwu were kept in a pet boarding along with Jerry (a neighbour’s 3 months old shihtzu baby who had been residing with us for two weeks then on lieu of his parents being away on urgent work). The trip was to take a break and also try out the pet boarding. The boarding thing didn’t work well but our trip was refreshing with good roads and a lovely weather.
In December we took a road trip to Sultan Bathery, Wayanad, Kerala. I had booked a cottage in a plantation and the plan was to chill out. Anoushrayan had a lovely time chilling out with his kindle. He was in the room mostly, taking just a single stroll around the plantation in three days.
On the way from Bangalore to Wayanad, one has to go through Nagarhole, the reserve forest; Anoushrayan was totally oblivious to the beauty of the forest and rather wanted to doze through the scenic journey along with Dogmatix and Zhauwu.
He loves to be in the world of fantasy – aliens, magical creatures, mythology, space or time portals; and as of now earthly things and its bountiful nature does not fascinate him. As he turns 14, time management is the biggest challenge he faces with hordes of activities, loads of dreams and throngs of distractions.
It felt so distant. It felt so far fetched. It never felt like an eventuality. Well I was wrong. Every other child becomes 12 every other day and so did Anoushrayan; on 7th Feb 2019.
The naughty but innocent eyes were expressing feelings yet beyond his comprehension. The little toddling feet had grown taller and stronger than mine. His palm was bigger, his grip was firmer and we now held hands, more for me in need of support.
Flashback 2008. After his first birthday, which we celebrated in Science-city, Kolkata along with both the grandparents, I and Rajib left for Bangalore and my parents and Raspy left for Guwahati – Assam, where my dad was posted at that time in the capacity of a plant protection officer for the govt of India. We visited them off and on. The residence in Guwahati was in a delightful surrounding. It was some distance between the city and the airport and was like an isolated hamlet. Raspy got ample space to play and explore. He got introduced to numerous animals and birds. The two storey house faced the main road and the hill range thereafter. At the back it had a water-body and then fields.
Raspy was a happy child and very much at ease with my parents. Mom had been there since he was born infact before that, so he didn’t differentiate much between mom and me. Mom had put up two huge photographs of me and Rajib on the wall and used to identify them as mamma and dada to him. When I visited them the first time a wonderful thing happened. I had just settled in the drawing room, he had been sleeping when I arrived and presently he was coming out of the bedroom, he looked at me, looked at the photograph, gave a broad grin and ran back into the room. I followed and sat down. He slowly came to me and perched up. It was lovely to see the recognition and love in his beautiful little eyes. He also recognized Rajib with ease when he arrived a few days later and was very happy to have all of us around.
We got his mane cut, having got a barber over to our place and Raspy happily slept through it.
In October Raspy came to Bangalore for a visit with my parents. He was thrilled to see and board the train as earlier he had travelled by plane only. We went on a trip to Mysore and had a lovely time exploring the zoo and the animals through his eyes. Raspy’s jaw literally dropped as he saw the Giraffe. We also visited Udupi and Raspy was at a beach for the first time as we went to Malpe Beach. He loves beaches.
Back then we only had a scooty pep and he loved the little rides standing in front or sandwiched between us.
Flashback 2009. We had trouble toilet training Raspy. One such evening, I wanted to scold him for not trying to learn and took him into my room. I made him stand on the bed so that we became the same height and he could see me in the eye. After a short while I realized he was intently following my mouth and was very intrigued. All this while I was scolding in English, (as ‘am comfortable in the language when agitated or overwhelmed or want to make a point) and there stood my 2 yr old baby with an appreciative look and happy nod. I continued, trying to sound somber. When he had enjoyed enough he jumped on to me and started eating my nose. The last accident on bed happened when he was 6 yrs old which of course was a one off case, by 4 Raspy was well trained.
The time he took to get toilet trained is inversely proportional to the time he took to be english alphabet trained. When he was a little over 4, we were once travelling by train and he started reading station names, as big as Visakhapatanam. We are a family of readers so we have numerous books at our homes, be it Kolkata or Guwahati or Bangalore. So little raspy started reading voraciously, from bottle labels to magazines, one could see the pleasure in his cute almond eyes when he read. He actually always read ever since, he can’t sit without reading. Though now he has choices and preferences, that time he just read not knowing most of the things he read. It was very comforting in a world where parents were literally having to dance on their heads to make their kids read.
The first three years of his life we kept on travelling to and fro between Bangalore, Kolkata and Guwahati, sometimes I / we went, sometimes he came over with my parents or we brought him and dropped back. He was happy everywhere.
I went back to Kolkata with him to stay with mom. Rajib joined us for a short while. He was a little over 2 then and it was time for school. The scheduled day for school arrived and we were all very excited. He was very happy to hang the tiny bag on his shoulders which had a snack box and bottle, all decked up in new cloths. Thus three of us – me, Rajib and Roddur, hand in hand, walked down the lane to the school, namely Kidzee, a little distance away. Raspy’s official nick name is Roddur.
All went well till the lady help took his hand from ours and started to get inside. It was mayhem. We had to bring him back. We tried for a couple of days and then had to give up.
I started looking for other options and found one which had a more open atmosphere. The kidzee near our place was basically a huge decorated hall and apparently Roddur was uncomfortable to go in a walled place without us.
Welland Goldsmith is a school of good repute and they have a kindergarden standing separate from the main school building. Their round hall in a standalone structure had big windows on all sides and was quite airy and sunny. Somehow Roddur liked it to my relief. I wanted him to socialise, mingle with other kids of his age and he did fairly well in getting along with his mates and teachers in the school. All this while he had only been surrounded by adults, mostly people the age of his grandparents.
I was scared if I would be able to recognise him amidst all those tiny tots and an experienced teacher reassured me, “…even if you don’t, he will find you…” and every day he would find me and run back into my arms when the school got over.
We visited Pondicherry in October and once again Raspy loved the beach though there wasn’t much of it. He enjoyed Auroville, the famed concept village. He also loved the boulevard. On the way back we stopped for cakes and it had rum, the poor little guy could not process it and vomited.
Flashback 2010. After a short stint at the play school in Kolkata, Roddur came over to live with us in Bangalore. He was almost 3 then and we decided to get him admitted in a school called Fusco’s School. It is a missionary school run by the nuns. We liked the grounds and the classrooms. It was a perfect place for a tiny tot to discover his surroundings and he enjoyed his Pre-KG and LKG with the wonderful teacher Martha madam, who made him want to go back to the place; but the beginning was a nervous affair.
Anoushrayan was to face an interview the next day for admission in Pre-KG. The Principal would interact with the child, we were briefed previously. We expected her to ask him his name, our name, favourites and stuff like that. We felt it was most imperative to know one’s name; so we had taught him well, both ours and his.
Context one – few days back we had watched the movie Madagascar, and he loved it. He identified himself with Alex(the lion), me with Gloria(the hippo) and Rajib with Marty(the zebra).
Context two – Since his early childhood days my mom would read to him the wonderful Bengali poems and stories written by Sukumar Roy (Satyajit Ray’s father); it is a delight to read them even today. However we identified Anoushrayan with a character called ‘Hijibijbij’, which literally means nonsense. It is a seriously funny character who would make one roll with laughter. So was Anoushrayan, and thus the connect.
Starting a couple of days before the D-day, every time we or anybody else would ask him his name, it was either Alex or Hijibijbij. The eve of the D-day really got me nervous. This was a school in our proximity, a reputed one and within our means, so I wanted him to be admitted there. However hard I tried with the 3 yr old, rolling my eyes and making my voice demure, the answer would not change. Next morning we went all dressed up and as I repeated the question in the car, the little brat gave the most heart warming smile and said, my name is Alex, my mother’s name is Gloria and my father’s name is Marty. I knew not what to do and just sat there twitching nervously till the call came. I kissed him and he kissed back smearing saliva all over my cheek. We went in holding hands, Rajib tailing us. The principal, a nun with a sage like demeanour called him and he ran to her. She asked him his name as we were taking our seats and to my veritable relief, he said Anoushrayan Deysarkar. Man, it did sound sweet!
Every morning we would pack breakfast and drive down the short distance to his school as Anoushrayan was likely to throw up and felt sick if he had to ride after having food. Fusco’s has a big parking lot, we always reached quite early, played a little, fed him, cleaned him up and then walked down the beautiful pathway leading up to the classrooms. He would kiss me and hug me and then bid me goodbye to join his classmates. I would walk back to the parking lot with a heavy heart though I knew I’ll see him in just 2 hrs. It was a routine for 2 years and I re-learned and honed my driving skills in this duration, going over the same route each day.
At around the same time Anoushrayan was experimenting with the gift of his glib, Rajib noticed that he was unable to say ‘coconut’ properly; he could say Canada, Center, Cute, City but not Coconut, on further probing we found that he was converting the ‘C’ to ‘T’ for any word which had ‘CO’ to begin with. I said it’ll get corrected with time but Rajib was worried and started working on it. He would show him how to roll the tongue day after day and interestingly Anoushrayan would keep practising it, I often found him sitting with his toys or in the balcony and repeating the tongue roll. And after many days he was no longer saying ‘totonut’ but had mastered ‘coconut’ and the other words.
Over the years Anoushrayan retained his ability to overcome challenges by sheer hard-work and determination. But again he has to be really convinced about its utility, if he doesn’t feel the need he can be as obstinate as possible to resist learning or practicing. My biggest challenge being making him to do any physical activity / any form of exercise.
Every step that we had taken together had been so vibrant and high on drama that I have never missed the vivacious opportunities of work that I lost in lieu of being with my child 24 by 7.
We were quite invested into photography at this time; we still are but not so extensively, majorly due to lack of time, the pattern of our travels which has changed due to Raspy’s preferences and also to an extent for not being able to use the multitude of photographs we have, productively.
So there we were at Thanjavur at the Brihadeshwara temple. Raspy was tagging me as I clicked and for the most part either I was holding him or he was holding me. Rajib was somewhere happily taking shots of the temple. This one place I had to focus a bit at an extraordinary angle so I made him sit and said he should keep sitting till am back. I was about a yard away from him and yet in his vicinity. I took a couple of shots and possibly had to be out of his sight for a minute or two. As I turned to go back to him, he was not there.
That was the first time in my life, my heart skipped a beat. I had been happy and sad and angry but never never never so scared. I had literally lost him. I ran to where he was sitting, it was a big open space and he was practically nowhere to be seen. Kumbakonam temple is famous for child lifts and Raspy would be an easy target. I called out his name and started walking past a smaller temple structure in whose shadow I had made him sit. A minute later I saw him walking a little ahead of me amidst a crowd calling ‘mamma, mamma’. I ran to him and picked him up.
The lost and found episode must have lasted for a max 3 mnts but those were the longest 3 mnts of my life. I continued to have nightmares about losing him for months thereafter. We lost him a couple of times in supermarkets as he would never stand at a place. He kept moving and if I would stop for a moment to checkout something he would have trotted on somewhere.
Flashback 2011. This was a challenging year. I was finding it very hectic to manage Raspy, a bundle of energy – curious and hyperactive. I mismanaged myself and was diagnosed with diabetes type 2.
We went to kolkata in Oct. Fusco’s was very reluctant about granting leave and I had to make up a lot of stories to get a few days extra. We visited my ancestral village, Karanjali too and Roddur enjoyed wadding around in the pond with my dad.
Flashback 2012. We celebrated his fifth birthday and our tenth anniversary with pomp and show amidst friends and family in Kolkata, the idea was to get him introduced to the multitude of our far and near relatives. I let him choose the cake and to my dismay he chose an airport, I had grand plans for a tiered cake.
Anoushrayan joined a new school Shishya BEML Public School in UKG. The major reason for changing school was the second language. Fusco offered Kannada as second language but we preferred it to be Hindi. Nevertheless he started learning kannada as a third language. This school was even nearer to our residence. It had big grounds and huge classrooms and a number of staircases.
Rashmi Menon was his class teacher in UKG and I was amazed by the way she managed a class full of chattering bundle of energies. She did not pamper them and yet she took great care. She taught them little things like tying shoelaces, stacking the notebooks neatly, eating the snacks in a tidy way. The kids loved her.
Anoushrayan was never any teacher’s pet as he somehow never warmed up to anyone, teacher or classmates, though he liked them all and never complained. The teachers also liked him because of his amicable nature and outstanding performance from the very onset in anything academic.
A lovely boy named Swaroop befriended him in grade 3 or so, otherwise, Anoushrayan turned out to be more of a loner since childhood.
This year, one fine day shortly after moving into the apartment – Dalli Sai Residency, I and Anoushrayan then just 5, stood atop the elevation holding hands. The apartment had a basement parking and one had to drive up an elevation to get to the road. It created an excellent opportunity for a downhill or uphill run. He was scared but we walked down side by side hand in hand. We went up and down, first walking then running, day after day, he trailing me and for years I outran him.
Flashback 2013. Anoushrayan in Grade 1. The respective class teachers would bring the kids to the gate and call out the names at dispersal. I went when she said Anoushrayan. He looked at me, top to bottom, with surprise and suspicion, then he hugged me and then smiled. Moments later, in the car he said, I could not recognise you at first, as you are wearing a full pant (a salwar, I usually wore quarter pants) but when I hugged you I recognised the smell.
We mostly travelled the less than 1km distance to school in our scooty, initially Anoushrayan used to stand in front but as he grew taller than the handle, he had to sit at the back. He would hold tight and my back would have a good backrest. Years later when he grew a lot bigger he would sit a little further back and my comfort was gone.
Well this was the year little Anoushrayan started winning accolades. He reported one afternoon as we were heading back home that he wants to take some exams. I gathered from his diary and his incessant blabbering that he wants to participate in the exams conducted by SOF World which goes by the name Olympiads and he was asking for my consent. I willing gave it and also guided him with his preparation. Anoushrayan was exuberant with joy when his name was called in the assembly, he had stood first in all the three exams he took, namely Maths Science and English. He later told me that he was almost trembling with happiness as he made his way up to the podium to receive the medals and certificate.
Thereafter he kept on bagging many prizes in the field of academics. In grade 5 he received an excellence award for outstanding performance and a hefty amount in prize money. In grade 6 however he wanted to take a break and didn’t appear for any external exam.
This year Anoushrayan got introduced to the idea of a pet. We got two cockatiels from a pet shop and named them Murray and Darling as they are indigenous to Australia. I had taken them for a check up and a lady brought in this little puppy who had been running amuck at a signal, he was hardly 2 months old. She was ready to pay for food, medicines and vaccines but since she had cats at home and a large number of them, she was unable to take him home. The clinic was not in a position to let him be there as he was too young. The only option was to take him home and foster him till he would get adopted.
The lady, the clinic and a few good people tried hard, I and Rajib went to an adoption camp and sat there all day. Anoushrayan was very happy when we came back home with Limca since he had not been adopted, well not that day.
It broke our hearts when he finally had to go. I was not in a position to take care of a pet dog as I was still trying to do some work in the external world and Anoushrayan needed a lot of mamma time.
Among other places we visited Kanyakumari with Anoushrayan, both for the train ride that he loves and the beaches. In fact Anoushrayan took a lot of photographs himself; he has quite a steady hand.
Flashback 2014. I love Art; music, drama, drawing and painting, sculpting; just anything creative, romantic and beautiful. I found a wonderful art (drawing and painting) teacher and would take him there in the evenings thrice a week. I was still committed to professional work at the time, so I would sit in the car working while he, I supposed, would make an inception into the creative world. His drawing copy would have lines and a few drawings which he needed to copy or colour. After about three months, one evening I stepped into the studio where the kids were all spread out and were at different stages of drawing and painting. I found Anoushrayan standing at the teacher’s table and looking at the drawing that she was making. I repeated the visits and always found him standing and watching. The other kids told me that he always does that and never does anything on his own. I had a hunch as his drawing book was rather empty and one day asked him why he is not doing anything and just watching. He said he just likes to watch.
This was one of those rare years when we didn’t go on a vacation out of town. We instead bought a dream flat making a huge investment, which turned out to be a bad debt as it never got constructed, atleast not until feb 2022. Rajib went to London for the first time on office work. Anoushrayan watched chicks hatching from eggs for the first time as our finches went on to extend their family.
Flashback 2015. Starting with Karate at around 5 yrs, we tried Kung fu, dance, Lawn Tennis and Skating before giving up. I felt very humbled at the Tennis court and felt a beautiful balance. In school Anoushrayan was the topper winning accolades in any exam internal or external, so I had to face both appreciation and concealed jealousy. At the court I was the mother of a very dumb player and a subject of sympathy. The coach even told me that he is really worried about my son’s future because if someone can not pick up tennis after almost 2 yrs then how would he manage maths or any subject for that matter in school. I just nodded suppressing a smirk.
His curious mind was ever hungry and school books not being enough I introduced him to the internet. We would watch youtube videos on many topics and thereafter discuss at length. Anoushrayan got lovely teachers in Shishya BEML as he went up the grades, one namely Nisha Madam who taught maths was his favourite. She was strict yet polite and jovial.
Anoushrayan loves energy and energetic people.
We did two wonderful trips this year. One where Anoushrayan had his first stint with mountains – Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal and the second where he had his first encounter with the jungle – Kanha in Nagpur. Anoushrayan was fascinated when we came face to face with a Royal Bengal Tiger but wasn’t much impressed about the snow capped mountains and rather grew distaste for the cold accompanied with it. He loved the vintage toy train ride in Darjeeling though and of course the pony ride.
Flashback 2016. A 9 year old Anoushrayan was all excited about his first trip abroad, and so was his 41 yr old mother as it was her first too! Unless Nepal is considered foreign which I and Rajib visited in 2013 without Raspy.
So Singapore was the destination for the summer of 2016. The zoos and the wonders of Sentosa were overwhelming for Anoushrayan but he thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Being accompanied by my parents on this trip added the extra pampering he always enjoys around them.
In October we plunged into another kind of sea – the sea of sands. Anoushrayan was thrilled to ride a camel in Khuri desert where we spent two nights in an unusual tent like setting. Jaisalmer is a household name, thanks to ‘Sonar Kella’ by Satyajit Ray and Anoushrayan was extremely happy to be on the scene that he had seen on tabloid so many times.
Flashback 2017. Here we were at the same elevation where in 2012 I outran Anoushrayan, now he could outrun me by far more number of seconds. He sometimes even dragged me up as I got out of breath, helped push the scooter up if need be. My little boy had grown up.
The dream flat (Skylark Ithaca) we had booked, was due in march 2017 and the work was going on in full swing, there was a possibility of a delay as is normal with most big projects and to be on the safe side we decided to change Anoushrayan’s school from the next session that is next grade and also move our residence closer to Ithaca. In effect he would not have to travel a longer distance in case we got the flat in possession any time during his school year.
We bought a small 2bhk in Sai Sarovar Apartment near Skylark Ithaca with our remaining means, thinking we would live there for at most 6 months before moving into Ithaca, and Anoushrayan was admitted to Mount Litera Zee School nearby for grade 5.
Combining farewell and birthday we threw a small party for his friends from school and it was good fun. This time the cake was black forest with fruits.
In the summer of 2017 we shifted to Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore. We were fortunate to find the last remaining white fields of eucalyptus plantations from where the area got its name. Our balcony became home to sparrows eliminating the need to keep caged birds. We had anyway given away all our birds before we shifted to this smaller place.
Anoushrayan not only managed to fit in the new school but also managed to win the hearts of his classmates, teachers, and even the principal. It was in this school that Anoushrayan gained humongous confidence regarding his abilities and emerged as a beautiful all-round soothing personality, thanks to his wonderful teachers, Bharati Madam who had been his class teacher and mentor needs a special mention as she had been largely instrumental in his growth. Anoushrayan made two good friends, Saket and Premraj.
The school has a swimming pool – half Olympic size, and swimming was part of the curriculum as was skating. He also started taking additional swimming classes in the evening and to our delight was eager about it and picked it up rather quickly and learned well enough to hold on till the rescuers arrive in case of any emergency situation. It is imperative to mention here that earlier when he was younger we had enrolled him for swimming classes and it was a complete failure, as he was outright scared of the coaches and their strict methods, he preferred free-floating and a little doggy paddling as my dad had taught him at our village pond. The coaches won’t allow that and hence his aversion towards swimming.
This was again another rare year of no travels but Anoushrayan didn’t complain. We went for a short trip to Horseley Hills nearby. He loves to spend time at home with his computer and books and is happy playing with me and one or two select friends.
Flashback 2018. The onset of 2018, namely the month of February his birth month, marked his first big stage performance as an anchor of the Annual Day Program for his school. He was enthused by the appreciation and applause.
A few days before the annual function in January, Anoushrayan was given braces in an attempt to correct his mole teeth look.
In his summer vacations, we went to Kashmir via Delhi. This was Anoushrayan’s first visit to the capital of our country. He liked Delhi. In Kashmir the most significant event for Anoushrayan was the pony ride in Pahalgam. He enjoyed the Gondola in Gulmarg but it was too cold for his liking.
Once again a change of school was on the cards. NPS came up in the lane next to Zee school; this was even nearer to our residence, Sai Sarovar Apartment. NPS is known for its academic orientation and that aligns perfectly with Anoushrayan’s demeanour. He loves to gather knowledge and can be at it for hours. No other vocation attracts him, neither sports nor cultural activities. So we decided to give it a try; I filled out the forms and Anoushrayan appeared for the written entrance exam and interview in October.
Winters took us to Madurai and Rameshwaram. Anoushrayan tried snorkeling and loved it. We tried banana boating but it turned out to be quite strenuous for us. Anoushrayan was fascinated standing at the last land point of India at Dhanushkoti.
Flashback 2019. Anoushrayan witnessed a ceremonial wedding for the first time. My niece got married in Kolkata and we all went to attend it taking special leave from school. I would not say he enjoyed the ceremonies cause it was too complex and crowded for his liking with all my cousins and their families around but it definitely gave him a sense of how big families can be. Being out of Kolkata for the most sensible part of his life till now, he had never known family apart from just his parents and grandparents.
We also took the opportunity to take a peek at the Sundarbans – the famed mangrove forests that are the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Anoushrayan loved the boat rides, he is too happy when he doesn’t have to walk, doesn’t have to write… in a nutshell doesn’t have to do anything which involves engaging his physical self actively. And yet he loves to ride… horse, camel… don’t know what else…
Back in Bangalore we had a lot to look forward to… one of them was to arrange for the party we had planned for Anoushrayan which was again going to be a farewell cum birthday bash.
And then he was 12. 155cm tall, 54kgs.
Time doesn’t fly; it stands still; in those images, that the camera lens creates and our sweet memories that never fade and need no technology to preserve.
This is a narrative of the first six months of the tiny life form out in the world from the comforting dark and warm womb. A distress and agony overpowered me when the life inside me became an individual. I felt lonely. It was traumatic to survive without the usual movements inside me that had grown over the months.
But I survived and once and for all I accepted the fact. This part of me, that is the most beautiful one, is an independent entity now, and the onus to make him truly so, lies upon me.
All things start small, so did Raspy. At 8 weeks he was hardly the size of a raspberry so we named him “Raspy”. I was at home, relaxed and happy thus my pregnancy was smooth except for the sleepless nights due to Raspy’s vehement movements. I read many a good book, one extremely enchanting was “Gem in the Lotus”.
The D-day was tensed. Raji arrived in Bangalore early morning on the 6th of Feb 2007 from Kolkata and I had to be admitted to the hospital that very night. Raspy’s position suggested that he was due to eject normally by early morning next day. But all the drips and meds could not bring raspy out on his own so the doc had to operate and push and then I heard her say – cried instantly at birth, 3kgs, boy baby.
So 7th Feb 2007, 2:44pm our lives changed. Three days later we brought the little darling to our Bangalore home. The wait that started on the 16th of Jun 2006, the day we came to know of the little soul breathing inside me and the anxiety and tension accompanied with such news for 8 months was finally over.
Mom and Raji were the only two soldiers I had to fight the battle and they both did a tremendous job rising to the occasion beyond their physical capabilities. Mom at more than 50yrs of age took care of the household and the baby and me laughing all the way and beaming with joy, Raji too was most supportive and ever caring amidst his office that was quite hectic and leaves were not to be taken at will.
Raji always made sure that he could accompany me for the check-ups. He never let me out of home alone and took pains to bring home all the grocery required as and when even after a hectic day at office. We didn’t have Bigbasket back in those days. He had trouble picking up raspy as he had never handled a baby before but soon he learned and carried the little devil in his arms as we walked to the pediatrician’s chamber.
Mom had a terrible time motivating me to feed raspy, he was fed on only mother’s milk for 4 complete months. No water too as instructed by the doctor and the internet. If ever I had to go out for more than an hour I would keep my milk in a bottle as prescribed by the doctor.
Raspy used to get hungry almost every hour even though he would drink a huge amount at a go. I felt like a Holstein-Friesian Cattle with a huge production capacity. If it wasn’t for mom I would have switched him to formula milk within a month. She used to be awake almost 24hrs, on duty all day all night.
Raspy wanted to be on board a human always, preferably maa or me, he could not make out the difference except for when he was hungry, as he was guided more by smell. The general advice was to let him be and not to give in to his undue demands but both mom and I felt that its only for a short while that we would be capable of carrying him so why not indulge in our soft toy. I can’t carry him now even if I want to at times.
Many of my friends came to say chao to Raspy and showered him with love and gifts. One set gave him a gift that is his companion till date. Rakesh gave a book which I and mom read almost line by line and found ourselves in cognition of most of it although we could not follow it entirely. I would recommend it to every new parent – The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spoke. A few of my dearies can be seen here.
Well, the present companion is not exactly the one they gave but its sort of a clone that mom made. Simba as the soft toy is called was dragged along wherever Raspy’s little steps would take him and in 3 yrs it had been washed so many times that it turned into a course rag. The current one is called Nala. She became 5 last nov (2017).
The rented house at Bangalore had a lamp post beside the low wall of our compound and at night when all lights were out, Raspy who never slept at night for 3 months, would keep on staring at it. In the later months he developed a love for lighted places and was scared of the dark, he still is.
At about 3 and half months on the 26th of May 2007, we boarded a flight to Kolkata. The journey was smooth as raspy had no issues with flying and domstal worked well for me. Kolkata was hot and humid as ever but raspy was cool. He seemed happy with lots of fresh air and faces around. Mom too seemed at ease with helping hands that were lacking in Bangalore. I missed Raji and felt sad for him as he missed both me and Raspy.
Raji soon came to Kolkata for a week in June and again for two weeks in July. It would be long before he could drop in again so we celebrated raspy’s mukhebhaat (starting of solid food) on 23rd Jul 2007.
According to rituals my brother should feed the first solid food but since I have none of my own and lots of cousins on the contrary, dad did the honours.
From the 4th month onwards Raspy was given formula milk twice and mother’s milk 5-6 times. He was then switched to solids after his mukhebhaat and was mostly fed on formula milk, wheat cereal, rice, dal, potato, banana, apple and biscuit. This was accompanied by vitamin and iron drops. Raspy disliked the drops and would scream with the utmost opposition and turn purple in rage. He loved to eat and in bulk. We fed him according to schedule and also as he demanded. Mother’s milk continued till he was a year old but it slowly came down to twice a day. Interestingly the lesser I fed him the production also reduced.
In the August of 2007, Raspy was no more a newborn. At 6 months, he could smile or make a face according to his wish, recognize and hold his bowl, spoon, tumbler and bottles. He could grip objects firmly and place them into his mouth, though he did it without any discretion, the object could be a garment, a leaf, one’s face or even an ant.
He could attain and sustain a crawling position for a few seconds and jump like a frog on all four, he could not crawl. He could bring himself to a 120° obtuse angle position that’s nearly a sitting posture.
Raspy was born with lots of hair on the skull and his entire body. It took some time for his complexion to stabilize, initially, he was pretty fair then darkened a bit again turned fairer, then he got my complexion which is fair enough for a boy at least to my liking. His physique was slender and well proportioned, with strong arms and legs. Most of the hair on his body has disappeared and he looked rather handsome with that heart-warming smile.
Characteristically Raspy was full of fun and vigour. He used to cycle his legs and throw his arms since birth and once he could roll, one moment he was at my side and next somewhere else. It was difficult to leave him on his own for even a few minutes and I used to tie him up if such a situation would arise.
He laughed aloud and screamed at high decibels when happy and excited which he was most of the time. He expressed annoyance at the top of his voice too.
He was not attached to a particular toy or thing and got bored soon but seemed to have a good memory as he showed recognition and pleasure when an old toy was presented to him after a while. He didn’t seem attached to a particular person too though he showed excitement and happiness when he acquainted a known face after a long or short interval.
Raspy liked company and didn’t mind a lot of them till he was personally disturbed. When in trouble of being mobbed or irritated otherwise he would enact as though hungry or sleepy so that we can rescue him and if there was no way out he just fell asleep. This particular act of falling asleep in adverse situation he had been doing ever since he was 3 and half months. He loved to play on his own for a considerable amount of time.
Raspy loved to stay immersed in a tub. Mom had been bathing him ever since he was three days old and never wanted to come out of his little tub filled with lukewarm water. He liked the water that way not cold even when the climate was hot, a liking he holds on to, to this day. He liked his food hot too whether liquid fluid or solid.
He will be 11 yrs old tomorrow, and I’ll slowly fill you in with details and events and the extraordinary moments that have gone by in the subsequent blogs. This is for those who love Anoushrayan and want to know about him. Cheers.
Join me as I reminisce Anoushrayan’s growing up years – next up – the journey till 12…