Little brother, big brother


My little nephew, all of six, keeps his four older cousins on their toes, whenever the whole family meets up during the holidays.

It is fun to watch these four teenagers drop all their eye-rolling and headphone wearing behaviour to play games that my nephew wants. Games that mostly involve buses, cars, airplanes and a lot of role-playing and running around.

Image courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

He demands and gets their undivided attention, from the moment he is up everyday till he decides that he’s had enough.

And woe betide the cousin, who slinks away to do teen things. He goes after them and ensures that they get back to being drivers or pilots. But the older kids indulge their little brother every single time. They call him ‘their bundle of cuteness.’

When we all met up during the December holidays last year, my son and my nephew were engaged in playing games the entire morning. By lunch time, my son wanted a break. He pleaded with my nephew, who would not let go, and the boys ended up squabbling.

In just a few minutes, my son walked out and sat down on the couch, with a loud sigh.

My nephew came to me, clutching the right side of his chest and said, “Periamma, you know he (pointing at my son) punched me on my heart.”

My son jumped up to retaliate, “I did not” and then with his eyes narrowed my son said, “By the way your heart is on the left of your body, not the right, so this proves that I did no wrong.”

My nephew looked slightly taken aback, but was not going to back down. Very quickly he shifted his palm and placed it slightly below his right chest and said, “Ok, not my heart, but he punched my right lung.”

The entire household burst out laughing.

And very soon the two brothers made up and disappeared to play.

How quickly time flies.

And, just this week, my little nephew has a baby sister in his life. A tiny, pretty doll, whom he adores.

He has transitioned smoothly from being a little brother to being a big brother. He spends all his free time looking after her, cooing to her and generally showering her with love.

Time flies, kids grow, but our love only gets deeper for little, big brothers and their even tinier sisters.

Treasures to pocket


I am going down the elevator. The lift stops two floors below mine. A small boy of about four gets in. I say Hi! He says Hi! too. He seems preoccupied with a small pocket on his T-shirt.

He repeatedly looks inside it, and taps the pocket. I ask him what he has inside. He tells me that he has three ‘treasures’!

I smile, and ask him more about his ‘treasures’. He asks me to wait, and slowly pulls out the said ‘treasures’.

First comes a beautiful, grey pebble that is perfectly round. He tells me that he found it near the beach. He then pulls out a small bit of paper, on which are drawn shapes in different colours; a game he made, he adds, by way of an explanation. The last treasure is a small paper aeroplane, made by his grandfather, who’s visiting.

His eyes shine, as he carefully puts the three precious items back into the safe recesses of his pocket.

Soon, the lift reaches the ground floor, and he dashes out to play.

I remember how eagerly my classmates and I waited to go into Grade 6 in school; because that’s when we got to move from sweaters without pockets, to blazers that had four pockets on the outside, and one pocket inside.

There was so much excitement when we switched to blazers. We had our own ‘treasures’ then, ranging from candy, to lists of crazy games, secret code language sheets, chip-chops, message chits we wrote to our friends in class, and so many other exciting things, which formed an integral part of our childhood.

Courtesy – Wikipedia

We also carried ink-pens in the inside pocket, those ones where we had to fill ink from an ink-pot. It was a kind of ritual every night, where my siblings and I would fill ink in our pens. Our dad checked if the nibs of the pens were ok.

All it took was a hard fall for the pens to develop hairline cracks, which would then cause the ink to leak. We got rude shocks sometimes, when we opened the lid to write, only to realize that we had lots of ink on our fingers.

We also had nice fluffy pink blotting paper that would absorb any ink stain in a jiffy. Sometimes, we would look at the shapes formed by the ink stains and try and liken them to animals or everyday things!

We felt important with our blazers and these ink pens; we had secret treasures in our pockets, we had lovely candies tucked away…!

All these memories came rushing back, when I saw the little boy and his precious treasures!

Should it be a 5 or a 6?


I am reading a book. My son sits next to me playing a game on the iPad. I pause to look at how adept he is at navigating the game. Virtual creatures seem to fill-up the screen; as an observer, I feel that chaos reigns on his iPad screen. There is constant action, there is constant movement, there is an alertness and nervous energy in my son’s stance as he grapples with the many things that need his attention to succeed in his mission – whatever that may be, because, I have no clue at all about what’s happening.

I play games on my phone too, but mine are games that follow only one pace – my pace.

I simply cannot handle the pace of the games that my kids play. Maybe it has something to do with age?

Now, I like games like Sudoku and Kakuro; which I play when the house is quiet. Games where I can think, analyse and fill-in my responses. Almost like solving crosswords in the newspaper!

Courtesy – Can Stock Photo

Sipping a cup of coffee and wondering if a box needs a ‘5’ or a ‘6’ is all that I can handle in terms of speed. I enjoy the ‘thinking’ more than the playing.

Graduating from ‘medium’ to ‘evil’ in Kakuro is cause for celebration. Some puzzles are truly ‘evil’. They take multiple attempts to solve, usually over a two to three day period. And each time the puzzle is solved, I give myself a mental high five. Simple reasons to celebrate.

And before I go back to my book, I look at my son’s iPad. It looks as busy as ever……!

Digital surprise 


My son has just come back from school. He usually washes up and spends 10 to 15 minutes playing games on the iPad, after which he eats his evening snack.

However, today, as I watch him, he skips the washing-up part and goes for the iPad directly, to quickly check the status of one of his games.

I ask him to go wash up. My words seem to fall on deaf ears. I repeat in various modulations –

1. The polite voice

2. The polite but slightly louder voice

3. The polite, firm and loud voice

4. The threatening voice

He pleads, I relent. I go away to attend to some chores. Ten minutes later he is in the same position, totally oblivious to anything but his game.

I walk over, and take away the iPad. He gives in without a word, as he knows the rules. He mumbles a sorry.

 As I take it away, my hand accidentally presses the iPad button a couple of times.

And suddenly, creeping into this little scene is Siri’s voice, which says, “I’m sorry. I can’t help you with this.”

Courtesy – news.softpedia.com

We both look startled, and then burst into peals of laughter.

The Forgotten Song


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        Courtesy – http://www.playbuzz.com

A few days ago, I sat with a group of  friends playing a popular game called ‘Antakshari’, which is the singing equivalent of word building. One person sings a song, and the next person then has to start her song with the last alphabet or consonant from the first song, and so on.

We were having great fun. Many songs were sung, and the albums and movies remembered. When it was my turn, the song I wanted to sing suddenly vanished from my head. It hid at the tip of my tongue,  lurked in my throat,  taunted me from behind my closed eyes and teased me with images in my mind, but never once revealed itself. I managed to sing another song in the nick of time and the game moved on.

However, the song continued to bother me a lot. The more I racked my brains to remember, the more elusive it became. I could dredge up images, situations and memories around the song, but none of them clear enough to help me place it.  I finally gave up in frustration.

Days flew by. Last week, when I was in the supermarket, waiting in the checkout counter, the song slid back into my head, slyly and stealthily – that it took me a while to realize that the song had finally come back to me.

I smiled in happiness as I hummed the song. Sometimes, I wonder where our brain tucks away such information, only to throw it back to us at a later date, totally out of context.

I felt happy and light after the song came back to me, though I was not sure why it mattered so much that I remember it.

Has this ever happened to you? Would love to know.

Messi needs to know


My son is growing up so fast. Like every other little boy, he has moved from toy cars and planes, to building blocks and Beyblades, to Ben 10s & Transformers, to Rubik’s cubes and his own glider invention, to football.

The flavour of the season is definitely football and  it looks like this season is going to last a while.

His toys,  and his sketches for his invention are forgotten, as he runs down to play football the moment he is back from school.

He is learning the lingo of the game, learning to identify players; comes back with spiked hair dunked in sweat, and is building loyalties. It is sweet to watch his indignation after a game with his friends, when he feels the other team won only by breaking the rules.  Another phase…..

This morning, while I sipped my coffee, I felt two little arms wrapping themselves around me. It was my son. We hugged each other a good morning.

His eyes then lit up. He said, animatedly, “Mom, do you know about the ‘sliding-side-slip’ tackle in football?”

I said, “No.”

He then launched into a detailed description of the technique, demonstrating to me its finer nuances and how his opponent would be left wondering where the ball went.

I nodded and asked, “So, where did you learn this? Who taught you? Did you learn it from Messi ( my son’s idol)?”

He replied, “No, no, I invented this tackle, it is fantastic.”

I am struggling with laughter now.

He then said, “Maybe this will help Messi also. Messi needs to know this. Can you send him an email?”

Yes, Messi needs to know! ….I laugh quietly to myself.