I have never been the deeply maternal sort. So when my daughter announced her pregnancy to me a few years ago, I was kind of looking forward to grandmother-hood with decidedly mixed feelings. Soon after, she presented me with this red-faced little bundle of grandchild, and thus began my journey into slavery. Of course the transition period of conversion between practical matriarchy and slavery took a few months. The root cause of this journey was Taamara, my little lotus.
By the time Taamara was old enough to be left safely in my care for a few hours, she had wound her tiny little fingers very firmly around my heart. From the top of her head of dancing brownish curls, to the tips of her dusky skinned tiny feet, she was truly delicious, as only a grandchild can ever be. Even at this young age, she had a wicked sense of humour, and knew when she had her audience charmed, and would chortle and gurgle with glee when we would burst into laughter at her childishly impish witticisms. I was bewitched. Thereafter, every step she took, every glance she looked, every sound she made, was unique, was amazingly brilliant-to a besotted grandma. By the time she began talking, there was no looking back. She never stopped, talking, I mean. She could talk for hours, which we discovered for ourselves on a long road trip out of our city. She spoke non-stop for a major part of the journey, and only stopped because she fell asleep. By the time she was a little over two, she had mastered four syllable words, and used them almost as expertly as that of any reputed television channel’s News Anchor. With her increasing vocabulary, was her increasing confidence, and my, what a poised young lady she was by thirty months. Among her parents’ circle of friend’s children, she was the only girl, and the youngest. So at any given time, she was surrounded by this gaggle of boys, of all ages and sizes, all of them hell bent on engaging her attention, and hanging on her every perfectly articulated word.She had by now graduated into being permitted, under Parental Control, to watch ethnic folklore and fairy tales, on DVD. Her hot favourite was the animated version of the ‘Jungle Book.’
A friend visited me once, with her gawky fourteen year old son. He would have put a shrinking violet to shame. So shy was he that he did not utter a word, unless directly addressed. I was talking to the mother, with her son seated silently on a settee across the living room, as communicative as a rock.
Into the room swept Taamara, in search of me, and espied instead, the Rock. Her curiosity aroused, she stood expectantly in front of the teenager, giving him the clear unblinking, unabashed once-over, patented perfectly by the under-threes. He didn’t budge, he didn’t talk, he didn’t even breathe. The Rock just ignored her. Now, for a girl who was used to being quite the diva, with her exclusively male fan club, this behaviour just wasn’t on. That’s when Taamara shifted into over-drive.
“What’s your name?” No reply.
“My name’s Taamara.” No response.
Unfazed she switched tactic, turned smartly about and did a fast step.
“Hup, two, three, four! Hup, two, three, four!” for about ten turns, under this squirming Rock’s nose. Not even a muscle twitched on his inscrutable face.
Since the ‘Jungle Book’ enactment of “Colonel Haathi” training his soldierly herd, hadn’t had the desired effect on the Rock, Taamara changed tactics, yet again. She doesn’t have her Grandma’s genes in her two-and-a-half foot frame, for nothing! She switched to the fabled monkey act, which was a sure fire rendition, enough to strike terror into the most famous Brave Heart. She did a couple of leaps and cartwheels in front of the Rock’s settee. No Siree-he wasn’t impressed. She swirled like a dervish, hither and yon, around the living room, setting the city alight, with her long monkey tail spitting ‘flames’, as per the fable. The Rock’s heart remained untouched. He yawned, decidedly bored!
Sighing, Taamara then clambered on to the settee next to the Rock, and settling uncomfortably close to him, and with the same clear, unflinching gaze, gave him another once over. In her piping treble, she lobbed the ball a second time, into the Rock’s court,
“What’s your name?” Again, no response.
Being made of sterner stuff, she went on to her next question,
“You know to which school I will be going?” Not interested, conveyed the Rock’s expression.
“Do you want a chocolate?” was this little Eve’s ultimate apple. Silence.
By that time everybody in the room was sliding to the edge of their seats, having bitten their nails down to the quick, wondering what the result of this one-sided interaction, was going to be.
Fond grandmother that I was, I waited in trepidation for Taamara to get her first come-uppance.
Unfortunately my Lotus had a pressing social engagement, a birthday party, so her father had come to pick her up. The final scene of this clash of personalities had yet to unfold. We waited, we all waited. I took her away to change her to her party clothes, and after her transformation was complete, she raced back into the living room in unmaidenly haste. Heaving a sigh of relief to find that the Rock hadn’t vanished, Taamara delivered her coup d grace. She stood in front of this quivering jelly of fourteen year old. She stuck out one foot, shod in hip Diesel sneakers, and with her hand on her hip, looked expectantly up at him for approbation. Her look said it all,
“What do you think of this package buddy?” conveyed her expression. It was too much for the Rock.
The visit ended. Mother and son left. He a speechless, shattered teen. He’d been worsted by a thirty month old!
And Taamara? Well, her faith in fourteen year old wimps is yet to be restored!