Saturday, July 11, 2015


Some years ago, when I was a full-time working mother, a small event in my son’s life helped me accept that a child’s friend can relegate the mother to a backseat in her son’s world, at least temporarily………….

“Why did you leave me and go to her house?” my son sounded devastated as he came up the steps, his friend following him.
“They called me for snacks. My mom was there too. So I went.” Dev was not convinced. That his friend alone was invited and he was forgotten obviously hurt him.
He picked up his recent most acquisition, a tool set, complete with hammers and spanners. Dangling it right before Ravi’s nose, he triumphantly declared – “My papa got it for ME from U.S.. I’m never going to share this with you!”
Not to be outdone, Ravi promptly took up his long-forgotten badminton racket from Dev’s toy basket, retaliating, “This is MINE, not yours!” So the battle had begun… was almost time for adult intervention.

Dev and Ravi are next-door neighbours and soulmates….well, almost. Their families stay in the same apartment. The kids’ screams and laughter on every holiday they share keep our building alive. Ravi’s mother rushed in, blissfully unaware of the latest in the series of hot-and-cold sessions of the two pals. Giving me a hurried account of their busy day ahead, Sona coaxed her son away for lunch. Her timing could not have been better.
My four-year old looked up at me, his eyes two small pools about to overflow. He has always refused to accept that he too has been equally disloyal to Ravi in the past, leaving him alone during peak hours of their play sessions to attend birthday parties, armed with full knowledge that cute ‘return gifts’ awaited him there.

The issue of why his bosom friend had separated from him voluntarily on a holiday lay unresolved. And the risk of Saturday lunch slipping away from being the usual family event loomed large. The occasion demanded that I help my son through this heart-breaking episode. Taking up the challenge, I said “Never mind, you two will be friends again when both of you can forgive and forget. Now, does our sweet angel know what surprise I have for him?” It was a cream roll I had fortunately stored in the refrigerator. The “forgive-and-forget” was one of my many attempts to help my son get over such small shows of betrayal from his friends though it didn’t help much. My little one sat stiff, his face dark with sadness and anger.

I hated to take the aid of the television, so set about blending a pineapple juice, his favourite dessert. Lunch and yummy dessert over, Dev’s spirits up again, and my husband’s cell-phone put on “mute”, the Saturday held the promise of long-awaited, precious few hours with just the three of us playing chess and trying out origami shapes. I am a working mother, staying away from home for twelve hours a day, five days a week. The fast pace of modern life and endless list of household chores squeezed into the little spare time my hectic schedule allows me doesn’t give me much time for bonding with my only child. Matters get more difficult when there are two soul-mates separated by just a few yards. The next few hours disappeared in origami and puzzles and updates on the latest happenings at his school - enough to make my husband retire for a nap, smug with the feeling of having spent good amount of quality time with his family.

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