The lullaby bond


Earlier today, I chanced upon a physical photograph from our children’s childhood archives. My husband and I have been meaning to digitize all these pics some day, but that day is yet to arrive.

The photo brought a smile to my face, as it was a top angle picture of my daughter gurgling inside her cloth hammock cradle, taken when she was a chubby six month old baby.

The cloth hammock was baby- pink in colour and made of netted cloth. It was attached to a spring, and suspended from a strong hook on the ceiling in my daughter’s room.

Image courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

My daughter was a light sleeper, and would wake up at the slightest sound. My husband and I were permanently sleep deprived, and took turns to carry the baby, sing to her or rock her in the hammock.

I had a few lullabies that I had in stock as I rocked the cradle. And, when I felt that my daughter had gone to sleep, I would try to slowly walk away, but I don’t remember ever reaching the door without her gurgling and announcing that she was still wide awake.

Then my husband would give it a shot, and on it went. But on many such nights, when both of us were weary from a long day, and had to leave for work early the next morning, my dear father in law would tell us, “Why don’t you both catch a few winks, I will rock the hammock.”

And even before he completed his sentence, my husband and I would slink away, our hearts filled with gratitude for his help and love.

While for us, the parents, it was one of our duties in child rearing, for my father in law it was a pleasurable activity, as he woud talk or sing to his granddaughter with absolute joy.

The first deep bonds of love between granddad and granddaughter were sown then, as they had late night chats and gurgled to each other. And whenever my father in law paused his singing or talking, my daughter would say “hmmmmm” loudly, as if asking why he had stopped talking to her. And with delighted laughter, my father in law would resume the conversation again.

Truly precious memories!!

What’s in a name?


I recently read a joke in which there were two brothers, who had the same name ‘John’. One brother was a tourist bus operator, while the other was an undertaker. So, to avoid confusion, the people in the town called them ‘John – The Journey’ and ‘John – The Final Journey’ respectively.

This joke brought a smile to my face as it reminded me of the naming convention we follow in our community.

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             Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

Unlike everywhere else, where there is a family name and all members of the household share the same family name, we follow a different system.

So, for example, if my name was Dev, and my father’s name was Kumar, and my grandfather’s name was Raja, then my name would be Dev Kumar, while my Dad’s name would be Kumar Raja. So, father and son don’t share the same surname.  But that’s how it is!

The other big naming convention we follow is that if the first child is a boy/girl then he/she automatically takes his/her Paternal Grandfather’s/Grandmother’s name. If the second child is also a boy then he gets the maternal grandfather’s name; likewise with a second girl.

But the real confusion lies in this scenario. My husband’s grandfather had six sons, each of these sons has a son.  Now, since all of them are firstborn sons, all of them have been given their paternal grandfather’s name.

So, when we meet for family functions and weddings, we have a lot of confusion, as each time someone calls out to one of the grandsons, six voices respond.

To make it easier on the family, we now prefix their names with their professions or the city or town they hail from. So we have

a tycoon Raj
a watch Raj
a pilot Raj
a banker Raj
a Mumbai Raj
a newspaper Raj

Despite having all these nicknames, we still end up being confused.

There is another twist to this naming story. One of my cousins has maternal and paternal grandfathers, who have the same name. My cousin has two sons, so the first one has been named after the paternal grandfather,  and the second son after the maternal grandfather. Since both granddads have the same name, both sons have the same name (of course they have different suffixes to their names).

One can never say, “What’s in a name?”

There’s so much in a name and lots of fun to go with it.

Love thy neighbour – A short story


Vini’s mobile vibrated on the coffee table. She ran to pick it up. It was her friend Savita, who told her that she was sending her son, with the registration form for a summer camp for their daughters. Savita had picked it up earlier that day. Vini told her that she was at home and that Savita’s son could come to drop it off.

After waiting for nearly two hours, Vini had to step out. So she called Savita to ask when her son would drop off the form.

Savita sounded puzzled and said, “He dropped it off right after we spoke Vini. Wait let me ask him.”

Finally they discovered that instead of knocking on Door No :1600, her son had knocked on Door No: 1606, Vini’s neighbour’s house. Since nobody had opened the door, he had slid it under the door.

Vini laughed and hung up, but the real challenge was now. Next door to her, in 1606, there lived a disgruntled man in his late sixties.

He lived alone and had rebuffed Vini each time she had smiled or tried to strike up a conversation. He kept to himself mostly. He ticked off her kids if they talked loudly in the lobby.

She would have let the form go, but for the fact that Savita had paid $50 for it.

The old man lived by the clock and usually left home at 5 p.m. for his evening walk.

She hadn’t seen him in a while though and wondered what would happen.

At 4.45 p.m. she kept her door slightly open so she could hear him. She waited and waited, with no luck.

She could not meet him that whole week, and with just three days left to submit the form she was getting desperate.

Two evenings before the form was due, she heard his door opening. She dashed like a bolt of lightning, to claim the form, not caring if Mr.Grump would snub her again.

But coming out of his door was a little girl of about 6. Her cute pigtails bobbed up and down, as she smiled at Vini and called out, “Grampa are you coming? The lift’s here.”

Vini almost gasped when she saw the old man. His frowning face was smiling, he was humming a tune and there was a spring in his step.

He saw Vini and said, “Hello there. This is my granddaughter Tanya. My daughter’s visiting me after ten years.”

He shook his head in disbelief and smiled.

Vini smiled at this change. She asked him about the envelope.

“Oh that? Sorry..I thought it was one of those marketing mailers that keep showing up, so I trashed it. There was no name on the envelope, if I remember. Sorry, once again. Got to be off now. See you around,” said the man as he walked into the elevator with his granddaughter.

Vini stared at the closed door and didn’t know what to think.

Another $50 would have to go. She sighed but her heart felt good that the old man had found some happiness. Maybe that’s all he had wanted – some love and some family time. Maybe he had been terribly lonely.

The lost $50 was definitely worth it!