Growing Up - Snippets
When Shruti and I would sleep on our mother's lap, she would cover our heads with her dupatta. They felt warm and safe, and smelt just like her. I would often open my mother's wardrobe and take those colorful, rectangular pieces of fabric out, just to smell and kiss them.
Now that my mother insists that Shruti put one on when there are guests in house or when she is going for tuition, I feel confused. (Shruti has suddenly grown tall and got breasts and I have to be really careful while punching her.) Now when I notice a dupatta hanging loose by a chair or a door knob, I try not to think about it.
Could it be, like my friends tell me, that couples make love even after having kids? My parents never kissed in our presence, or held hands, or talked like how those couples do in the movies. I had caught my father singing a romantic song to my mother once but he said he had heard that song on the radio that morning and asked me why I did not do too well in the maths test.
Could they be hiding something? After Shruti and I go to sleep in our room, could my parents be husband and wife at night?
I don’t pick up telephone unless I am alone at home. At the end of the other line, it’s either a salesman or my parent’s relatives or their friends, and they all confuse me for my mother. Rajat, Rahul, Tanmay, Naveen, Dheeraj - everyone sounds like a grown up now. Naveen drank thick shakes for five straight days once and his throat got infected and that’s when his Adam’s apple ‘swelled’, he confided to me. Protrusion of thyroid cartilage (Naveen thinks it's a swellling because he plays tic-tac-toe in biology class) does not have anything to do with throat infection, I know, but then why hasn’t my voice changed yet?
I will prefer chilled thick shakes over milk and cereals next week. What's the harm?
It is illegal for kids. Besides, there is a statutory warning printed on every pack and we were taught in biology class how it contaminates lungs but Dheeraj still smoked cigarettes - daily, at The Korner Cafe after school hours (he said so himself). I think he was just trying to show off because he was not good at studies or sports or debates or playing musical instruments, and that’s why he passed comments in class even though they were quite silly and teachers punished him.
On Niharika mam's insistence, I became friends with him and helped him with his homework for a while. If you were patient, you would not think of Dheeraj as a very stupid boy (after I explained basic principles and derivations in detail, he solved almost a whole exercise by himself) but one day he made a dirty remark about Shruti and I punched him twice on his face and broke friendship.
He did not hit me back.