Tanya was so mischievous. We would spot her do crazy things every now and then. Oh! With her mouth open wide and her tongue sticking out; she would confuse our pet Tobo, who, often mistook her for his ‘dog –friend’ Lima. Ha! ha! Often we would tell her that soon she would grow a tail and walk on all fours. But she remained undaunted.
She would make a bee line to my friend’s place and squeeze all the tomatoes and come back home with a look of triumph. My friend would smile as she was a genuinely patient mum (Bless you Nitha Francis). I would apologize daily but couldn’t reform my baby as she was too small and so naughty. She chose patient people to be her favourites (read victims) and showered her love on them through her never ending antics. (Thank you Sucharitha Karri, you are an angel).
Once, in a party, she slipped her little feet in a lady’s stilettos and walked away. Oh! It was not at all funny as our daughter refused to give them back with a smug reply, “Aunty should share her things.”(I still feel sorry Sushma Sisodia but loved your patience) Barring few embarrassing moments, it was fun all along. In fact this went on for a couple of years. Tanya was lucky to come across people who simply loved her. But we were in for a disastrous experience that gave us jitters.
One morning Tanya watched me perform a small pooja. She was tugged in bed when she peeped from beneath the comforter and observed me say a small mantra only to sprinkle divine water all over the place.
“Oh! What a fantabulous idea?”I heard her say.
She jumped out of bed and ran to me.
“Please, please Ma, give me the sprinkler with a tinkler, I want to learn pooja.” She tugged at my sari with a look that promised a mischief.
“Oh! Tanya what will you do with it. I’m done for today.”
But my little one was adamant.
“Oh! Just one more time you can fill it up, I’m sure God won’t mind a little extra pooja.” I gave in with a smile.
The day saw Tanya sprinkling the divine water and cheerfully listening to the tinkle.
The next morning I woke up with a start. It was already six and Tanya had to be packed off to school. The day went off well.
Tanya returned with a look that had something to tell. Oh! God She had ink all over her tunic.
“What happened?” I asked anxiously and Tanya just slid the teacher’s note that said it all.
Meet the class teacher before assembly.
I looked at Tanya who pulled out the ink bottle and the sprinkler from her bag only to burst into tears.
I was shocked as I wiped her tears and peeped inside the bag.
“Oh! So you celebrated inky day.” I whispered.
The tears rolled down her cheeks as she sobbed and sobbed. It was a disaster for sure and I just waited for the next morning. I could see that my daughter was guilty as well as disturbed. I remained calm with difficulty. Quietly I inspected her notebooks and books to judge the disaster. For the first time I was frightened for her and could feel a strange suffocating lump in my throat. She avoided her Dad in the evening who suppressed laughter when he saw the inky stuff all around … (Well! men think and respond in a different way at times).
Later he told me, “Children do make mistakes without realising the seriousness of the actions that bring temporary pleasure and mischief.” She is punishing herself so be a little soft on her. Let’s face it tomorrow and see if she has something to share after dinner.
I carried her dinner to her room and fed her slowly waiting for her to say something. She began to sob and uttered, “Ma you will be shamed tomorrow … ask Papa to go to office and not to accompany you… pleeeease.”
My heart went out for her and I slid my arms around her and told her, “We will face it together. Now just go to sleep.”
The teacher told that Tanya had brought a big ink pot and the holy sprinkler the previous day. During lunch time, she sang and sprinkled all around…
“Ohm! I’m the sprinkler that sprinkles blue water
Can you hear the tinkle that wakes up Harry Potter
Ohm! Close your eyes and ride the broom
let’s turn blue to go to the moon
Ohm! Ohm! Ohm!
The teacher looked amused but then the sparkle vanished when she recalled, ”Tanya messed up the class, note books and many uniforms. Since yesterday I’m getting calls from so many angry moms. This should not happen again.”
I went back home with a heavy heart. I did not scold Tanya as I was devoid of energy. After lunch, I asked her to write apology notes to all moms. I did not tell her what to write. This is what she wrote:
“I am sorry Aunty for messing up the notebooks, tunic and all. I promise to be good like always. Forgive me for being bad but smile again and don’t be sad. Love you, Tanya”
All said and done but the sprinkler did it all as I found a poetess who has now grown so tall.
I was often punished for being mischievous and naughty. But slowly it affected my personality as instead of taking responsibility for my actions I would behave in a stubborn way and be on the defensive. I was always confused. Children rise and shine in love. Our patient counselling makes them realise to look within. My dad counselled me on a particular occasion and seeing his love; I actually turned over a new leaf. When we punish as elders we actually hurt the child who fails to comprehend the plethora of feelings that surge to disturb the psyche. Times have changed and we need to change for the better.
Thank you for your love,