I too have had some amusing incidents with my sons: Arjun and Arun when they were kids. On one of the occasions it was a peaceful scene in the drawing room. Both were making drawings, which I had given them as assignment so that I could watch a cricket ODI on the telly. What should we draw, they had asked. So I had told them to draw a scenery with hills, trees, birds, sun, house and children playing football in front of the house. This I had reckoned would take at least 30 minutes, and I would be able to watch 7 to 8 overs. I was right; it took them about half an hour with all kinds of colour pencils. Finally both came to me to ask what I thought of their drawings. I told them their drawings were good. So far so good. However, there was potential for a sticky situation when the younger one, Arun – all of four – asked me which one was better. I insisted both were good; he insisted on knowing which one was better. Like all sensible fathers I was not going to fall for this. So I tried explaining it with a metaphor, “Arun, son, you have two legs; can you tell me which one is better?.” Before even the words were out of my mouth he responded, “The right one, of course, because I can kick with it.”
Then there was the time when I tried to impress upon the elder one, Arjun, the pleasure one can get by going for long walks that I used to go for. On our very first walk, we had barely walked two kilometres when Arjun told me that he was tired and could we please turn back? Ah, but naval officers have lot of tact that comes in handy under these circumstances. So, in order to keep him going I engaged him in conversation. I asked him if he knew about something called pleasure-pain? This was a tough one for him at the age of eight. He knew pleasure, he knew pain but what was pleasure-pain? So, I explained to him about long-distance runners. At the end of, say, thirty kilometres of running, when the limbs are fatigued, a substance called Endorphin secretes into the brain and they get a high; intensely pleasurable feeling whilst the limbs are aching. This, I said, was pleasure-pain. I secretly patted myself on the back for motivating him for another few kms at least. We must have gone only a few steps when Arjun stopped and said, “Guess what, pa? I am already getting the pleasure-PAIN.”
Then there was the time when we had gone on a holiday to my mother’s place in the hills. Arun wanted to go to the market to play video-games (he later became the video gaming champ for India in Need for Speed for seven consecutive years); but, we wanted to keep his mind of it by indefinitely postponing it. One of the surest method of doing it was to tell him, “As your uncle JP next time he calls.” JP, my brother was in the US and used to call once in a fortnight. During those days calls to the US used to cost ninety rupees a minute and it was a big hole in the pocket to call frequently. That same afternoon, after lunch, Arun, all of three, picked the handset of the phone and was having animated conversation with JP. We all knew that it was only a mock conversation because he would be too small to know the ISD code and JP’s number etc, let alone the procedure. After more than ten minutes of conversation suddenly he said, “Ok, JP chacha; now tell my dad to let me go for video games.” I, playing along with him, took the handset from him only to realise that JP was actually on the other hand and that Arun had correctly dialed his number, apparently in the middle of night for JP.
When I was small I used to read Dennis the Menace comics. When Arjun and Arun were small I didn’t have to read any comics. Here is what Arun said as he burst into the house after his playtime, “Mama, I love you…” but then he saw her face in a mudpack nad he added, “…but I also hate you.”
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