Last night, big man and I stayed up till 3 am to watch the Argentina-Netherlands football match. And before we slept, he and I had a brief conversation. "Let him bunk school," said he. "No, I don't want him to miss school, when he is perfectly well and able," insisted me.
Naturally, I woke up to regret that.
Got out of bed fuzzy, woolly-headed and utterly disoriented. But also filled with what-a-worthy-mom-am-I pride. I'd had barely three hours of sleep, after all. And there I was doing my best to ensure that my child went to school well-fed, healthy and on time. What an amazing parent I was being, I told myself.
Then sitting in the loo, trying to shake the cloudiness from my head, I hear a tinny voice reciting numbers. It's Ayush, our security man Naveen Bahadur's four-year-old. Naveen, his wife Nirmala, Ayush and their new baby boy live in a room in our building basement. And since our flat is a ground floor one, we hear practically everything that goes on with Naveen's family. Every morning I hear Ayush sleepily throw tantrums, wanting his ma's attention, while she, tired out from tending to her newborn, tries to be patient. I don't know how she does it.
So this morning, what I hear is Ayush reciting his numbers, ''1, 2, 3, 4, 5...'' he says determinedly. Its 7 am, mind you. And Nirmala's newborn is just about a month old. (She told me recently that the baby tends to wake up around 3.30 am and drift in and out of sleep. Since she is also nursing, I can imagine what kind of a physical, emotional and mental strain she is going through right now.) Ayush has recited till 13 or 14 and gets stuck. Then I hear Nirmala prompt him '15, 16,..." she says and he goes on from there. He goes up to 20 or something. Then I don't hear any more, because I suddenly decide then and there that I will get everything ready for little man's breakfast and snack.
This is not the first time I've heard Nirmala being totally hands-on with Ayush. In May, when she was (she is a tiny 4' 11' in height) totally big and uncomfortable in her pregnancy (the last trimester is horrible as all moms-to-be know), I used to see her sit with Ayush and make him practise his writing. How she did that I don't know. In May, I had not bothered to make sure our little guy did any writing. To tell the truth, I was then more keen on making sure he went to summer camp and got out of my hair! Anyway, seeing her do this made me feel extremely guilty so I too dug out some of little man's old writing books and made him do some writing exercises. That made me feel a little better.
Big man and I are fortunate to have choices. We chose to stay up, and we even toyed with the idea of letting our child bunk school so we could sleep in a bit. But for Naveen and Nirmala, there is no choice, really. They need their child to do well at school.
Which is why they will do everything they can, to make that happen.