Thursday, November 15, 2007

One year later...

'He's the centre of attraction, wherever he goes,' She observes. Yes he is. We go out on weekends, to the nearby mall, or to the temple and quite a few people stare at our kid. Someone smiles at him, someone else caress his cheeks, a young couple gesture at him. The man at the counter hands over a small chocolate bar and Tejas has a big, big smile--his face lights up. He tosses and turns the bar with a grin, looking at his gift with much awe and wonder.

A year has flown past. The wailing - sleeping - smiling tot we'd held carefully last year is now an armful-- babbling, bursting to jump out and run around. He falls, bumps into things, rolls down the cot, gets his fingers in the car door, bangs his head against walls--inspite of us being careful to the point of getting admonished, he gets hurt. And then breaks into a wail. We fret, worry, make a fuss, glare at one another but before long he's smiling again.

'It's natural--all this falling and hurting oneself. They're a part of his growing up....'.

Yet his pain shakes us.

And then...

'No birthday cake? No party........!'

'No, We want a quiet birthday for him. Visit the temple on that day, offer prayers. And a dinner party for you all', I blurt out, a bit timidly.

'That's all? You're a silent person. Not your son. Don't make him so,' they don't say it but the expression says.
'What if he wants one, tomorrow? What if he asks about his first birthday?'.

'When he wants one he'll get it. First birthdays are for parents and we want it non-fussy. No circus.'

Dad insists. He wants a celebration for his darling grandson. Invite all the kids of the locality. Decorate the house. Cut a cake. All that drama which I find nauseaus and funny. 'We'll do everything. You just stand and watch,' he says as if I'm a stranger. He doesn't want his grandson to be left out when every other kid gets a bumper first year birthday celebration, these days.

'Now you don't start fighting again,' she's apprehensive. 'Respect their feelings. If you don't like this parade, reject it---mentally. But let them do it the way they want it. They're a part of us. Should we hurt anyone?'

No, we don't intend to hurt anyone. Nor do we allow others to take our decisions. We know that this is the beginning-- if you don't confirm, you face resentment, hostility. Be a black sheep and you face ridicule.

I take a day off on his birthday. Wake up early, get him dressed up. Birthday wishes from friends and family. A small puja. Prayers. He's a bundle of energy, jumping around, as if he senses that it's his first birthday and people around are happy for him. We go out in the evening, to a nearby hotel and eat contentedly, while he watches, bewildered, clamaouring for the spicy food which he can't eat.

What if your son disagrees with you, once he grows up? 'You think he'll remain obedient and sweet?'

'Let him rebel. I'd rather he be independent, decisive and strong, even if he incurs my or anyone's disapproval. Let him carve out his own path'.

'He will be dignified and silent--strong.' she remembers an interesting dream she'd had, before he was born. 'I know it. He's a Leo.'

And he's dynamic, exploding--full of laughter. His initial shyness with strangers seems to have abated. Every morning he stands near the gate, waves and chats with anyone who passes down the road.

When he was born, Jen wrote,'Tejas means, those who are friends.'

He is.