Monday, 9 December 2013

Not a Whining Schoolboy

-Brian Mendonca

When baba went the first time to play group we all waited with bated breath. It was like the time he was born.

Furious calls moved back and forth for a blow by blow account of the event.  So much depended on this precious baby. ‘God’s Gift’ we called him, as we proudly printed the photo book of the christening in Holy Spirit church, Alaknanada, in South Delhi.

A premature baby, he stayed with us in Goa till he was almost three. And then he was strong --strong enough to hold his own among the others of his age.  He is a bundle of energy now.  I can’t help marveling at his energy. Shopping out in Panjim for lampshades he pranced around the glassware playing ‘Jump, Jump.’ This involved jumping up and down dexterously on the shop floor  shrieking with delight, much to the horror of the salesman.

When he goes to sleep I miss him immensely. I remember the times I may have been harsh with him. How could that angelic face have ever offended anyone?

That day we were doing Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’ from his frothy drama As You Like It in college. As I ventured into one of the most well-known passages of the poet, baba was at the back of my mind. Would he be at this present moment, as I faced my students, ‘the whining school boy with his satchel / and shining morning face / Creeping like snail /Unwilling to school’?

Thank fully he was not. Dwayne enjoyed school immensely. As he walked back after school he wanted to go in again! He misses school on Saturday when they have a holiday.

As he gears up for his black and white day, and the Christmas party, and the Annual day – all this month --  I pause to catch my breath. It’s as if I am going to school! As Queenie and me bustle around keeping his things ready I know I don’t have to wait for Shakespeare’s ‘second childishness’ near death’s door, to savour the joys of fatherhood. To watch your child grow is one of life’s singular pleasures.

 He is obstinate at times. He loves the jingle of keys, he just refuses to wear his slippers in the house, and he can’t stand firecrackers. This last was because of a disastrous Diwali in Delhi before we came down. The place we stayed was filled with smoke. Amid the din we couldn’t even breathe.

He is also very tender. When Queenie had a toothache he put his little hands around her saying again and again, ‘Sorry, mama.’ He loves playing with grandpa. Patience and understanding on dad’s part reach across the intervening generation to give baba love and care at home.

Both of us liked the name, ‘Dwayne’ for him. It means ‘singer of songs’ in Gaelic. He pesters me to play the guitar but when I take the guitar out he promptly perches by its side and launches into strumming the strings!
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on 8 December 2013; Pix of Dwayne above taken by Queenie on his first day at school.

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