#1 Drink’s the Father


Her eyes were darting, always returning back to the same shelf on her left. She licked her lips, said “Andrew get me that sauce”.

Another lick of her lips. Andrew knew what was going on. He had anticipated it.

They were in the mall, holiday shopping it is. And the worse time of the year for his mom.

Holidays meant happiness, ideally. But for his mom they were cooking and cleaning and every other household chore that needs to be done so that the holidays all in all becomes perfect.

And the holidays were also the time when He left. His father. Her husband. Two years ago, no warning, no fights nothing. And till today no phone call or any message. Andrew was 11 then.

Mom cried and cried. Then she shouted and threw his stuff out of the house. Then she picked up whiskey. And she drank till she was peeing whiskey and drank more with arms she cut herself. Andrew and his sister Sophia cowed whenever she went into a rampage in the house. He was glad that the day mother cut herself, Sophia was not at home. Somebody called the authorities, it was not Andrew.

Large amount of anonymous alcoholics and anti-depressants later she came back. Sophia cried herself to sleep every night, Andrew used to hold her while she slept. And now while mother is almost normal the holidays are here. And they are standing in the mall with alcohol on the shelf to the left.

Mother pulls herself together and moves forward. They shop, Andrew pleading for every new toy he sees, mother persuading him to buy it the next time he comes there. But he could see her hustle. She wants to leave and drive home and have coffee, have this mall as far behind as possible. So he stops pleading eventually.

Sophia is not at home, at some of her friends place. Its snowing outside, driveway is piled up with snow. They get inside the home, mother whining about having to clean the driveway after dinner. Leaves the shopping bags on the kitchen and just  drops on the couch.

Unsure of what to do, Andrew turns on the TV. They watch a couple of minutes while mother is drinking water, like three bottles of water. She is keeping her hands busy, with remote or with her hair or with her sweater. Anything to keep her mind off.

Sophia is about to be home any minute now, its almost 7 pm. Mother has fallen asleep on the couch. Andrew wakes her up with a coffee.

“You know how to make coffee?”

“Yeah I watched you make them. You were asleep and tired so I made one for you. And no mom, I did not drink it”

She smiled. And Andrew recalled her old smile. There was just a hint of that old smile and laughter now. But it was there.

“Andrew!!” Sophia shouted from the driveway, “come here and help me clean it up.”

Mother looked perplexed, Andrew gave a loop sided smile and said “I may have ordered her to clean the snow. She refused. We had to have a compromise.”

He wore his gloves and opened the door, and there was Sophia with a big fistful of snow in her hands. She threw it at his face.

Mother gasped. Andrew gasped. Sophia laughed and bolted outside.

Andrew ran after her. Mother sighed suddenly remembering that they are just children yet. For now.

(Post inspired by reading Candid Kay’s blog post: Christmas tree left of centre)

Experience with the Tiny

Now about a day ago I read a post:
Dear society: kids cry, deal with it. Dear parents: kids cry, stop bringing them to grown-up movies.
The best thing was post was easy to relate to. I have had my share of experiences when some random baby in a train started crying or people trying to calm down a crying boy in a wedding.
Here are some, though unrelated, experiences.
I had really great experiences. In a hospital once a newborn slept sucking my thumb. And I didn’t want him to stop. I was ready to wait there with him till he let my hand go.
Bad experience. Once in a wedding an over excited boy kept hitting my thighs and knees. And his parents stood there chatting. I had to smile and pretend I wasn’t a bit irate at the Boy’s behavior.
This is now the main thing I want to talk about.
Now I would like to add something else too. This one is recent and this isn’t about a small toddler but a girl of at least 7-8 years old. While coming home from college the other day, I saw the same girl crying on the train station.
She being tiny was almost lost in the crowd. Only her cries of “Mummy Mummy” were audible because at that time the song I was listening to had ended. Otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed her either.
She was properly dressed, so I understood she wasn’t some street beggar who had just received some beatings from her mother. She actually looked lost and scared.
I stopped my music player and approached her. I put my hand on her shoulder and asked what happened. She cringed away from me.
Suddenly I became aware that here I am standing with a small crying girl in a crowd of at least a hundred. If any of them thought that I was trying to kidnap the girl and raised his voice I was going to be beaten to a pulp then and there. And more importantly the girl would still be crying because she was still separated from her mother. Delicate situation.
I asked her again where is her mother. She finally said something articulate like ‘Mummy nai h'(Mummy isn’t here). Obviously. And I became sure that I had a lost girl in my hands. Now I know what am I supposed to do about this situation. Take the girl to the police. Let them handle the girl, and the girl would be safer with them than with me.
What I didn’t know that I would become scared. Scared for the safety of the girl. Scared by the looks the fellow commuters were giving me. Scared by what the police will ask me. Scared.
I tried to focus on the task on hand and tried to calm the girl down. I asked her again where is her mummy. Same answer.
Change of question then. I asked her where did she come from? That she understood instantly and pointed ahead. Oh.
The indicated direction was full with people. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more than a single lost child here.
I looked around for police but they weren’t anywhere to be found. I know there are policemen just a few minutes distance in the opposite direction. I looked around once more, and before I could I turn the girl around and take her towards the police authorities she cried aloud and ran.
And ran directly into the arms of her mother.
Phew. The girl quickly grabbed her mother’s sari and cried even more loudly. Her hug to her mother, I could tell was the one she would hesitate to let go.
And then I looked at the mother. She had tears in her eyes. Well,things got weird after this.
She was looking at me with resentment. I could tell that much. She must have assumed that I was trying to grab the girl. I opened my mouth to remind her that it was her who had lost her daughter. I almost did. But I stopped myself.
The girl was back with her mother, her mother was not alleging me of anything. So no harm done.
I left the scene without a word, and a thought crosses my mind. How come I was the only one who stopped to ask the lost girl where is her mother?
There were Hundreds of commuters, at least some must have seen the girl. Yes I’m ashamed because I felt scared when it came down to helping  the girl.
I’m downright disappointed that I was the only one who stopped to at least ask the girl.
Why share this?
Because I think kids are a pain when they start irritating you. They are the most fun when they drag you along to play with them. But they only do that when they are feeling safe.
The girl on the station will probably be scared to let go of her mother till she grows up.
I am not saying it was the mother’s fault. I am not saying she was wrong in assuming I was trying to kidnap her daughter. I am just sharing.
I can’t presume I know of the solution. I don’t know. But given the choice I wouldn’t want another lost girl in another crowd. Tiny tots belong to the safety of their mother’s arms.
I hope they stay there.