Every once in a while history repeats itself and takes us by surprise. Few days ago, my kid and I got into a fight, which led to her announcing that she will go camping by herself. It was equivalent of saying, she will leave the house and go away. It upset me tremendously, but drew a chuckle from my husband. Needless to say I was not amused by his reaction and demanded an explanation. He remembered this anecdote my parents told him about me….
Many years ago, when I was around the same age as my kid, I had an argument with my mother and grandmother. I am not sure, but it could be related to some serious issues such as having a slightly more desirable menu for lunch or enforcing television rights. Anyways as always, the women held their ground and were unwilling to negotiate. So in my anger, I threatened to leave home at that instance. Big words from a tiny human! I thought my loaded sentence would bring them to their knees. Instead, both my mother and grandmother guffawed . This was definitely not the reaction I expected. I was infuriated with this insult. I repeated the sentence, a little louder, slower and slightly more emphatically. My mother and grandmother decided to call my bluff and told me to go ahead.
I did not think I would have to act on my threat. But now it became a matter of pride. After all I was a person of my word. If my own family didn’t take me seriously, how could I expect Micki, Pinky, Ruku and the rest of the group to elect me as the leader of the gang. I was left with no choice. I grabbed my school bag (it was the only bag I had, and I had watched enough movies to know that every time you stage a walk out, you must always carry a bag). My mother and grandmother sniggered some more.
“Main sach mein jaa rahi hoon” (I am really going to leave).
“Haan haan, jaao; dhyaan se jaana” (Yes yes, go ahead; go carefully).
I stomped my foot and headed towards the door. I noticed the door was locked, I was short and the latch was high. Maybe I could wriggle out of this…
My mother noticed the same and probably thought like me. She unlocked the door for me and asked me to carry on. Dammit! There was no turning back now. I was in it too deep. So I walked down the long flight of stairs, wondering how this was not playing out as shown in those Bollywood movies. I swear, every one of those scenes had the family members running after the upset party, begging and pleading them to change their mind and stay back. What the hell was wrong here?
While I was contemplating my next steps, my grandmother and mother went to the balcony and noticed a waste collector, sorting out some trash. My grandmother called out to him and requested him to look out for a little girl, who was about to step out of the building and yell at her as loudly as possible. The man was extremely thrilled to be part of this wicked character building plan.
As I stepped out of my building, I saw this burly middle aged man looking in my direction and yelling at me at the top of his lungs, while my grandmother and mother watched from the balcony above.
“YEH CHHOTA BACCHA AKELE KYU GHOOM RAHA HAIN? BHAAGO YAHAN SE, CHUPCHAP GHAR JAO!!! (Why is this little kid roaming around on her own? Get back to your house right now!!!)”
I froze for 5 seconds, gulped some air and then turned around immediately. I ran back home, bawling inconsolably. All adults exchanged thumbs up. My mother and grandmother waited at the door with open arms. I let them know I had decided to stay.
Years passed, I never heard the end of it. I even questioned their parenting skills –
“What if that man or someone else kidnapped me?“
“We were quite sure, you would not have reached too far or anyone would have bothered to kidnap you. Besides we were willing to take the risk!”.
Well, what can I say, I never ever tried leaving home again, even in jest.
Coming back to our fight in present times, after I made my husband tighten the window frames. I suggested my daughter camp out in our backyard by herself.
“You can go camping in the backyard, just watch out for the deer poop and spiders“.
“Wait a minute, there are spiders outside in the wild?“
“And deer poop?“
“Aren’t you scared a deer may take me away?“
“We are willing to take that risk!“
“Uhh, yeah.. no.. I changed my mind about camping. I ‘d rather stay home.”