Skip to main content

Chronicles of an uncle



On April 21st, 2006, if you ran into me on the maternity ward floor in Malathi Memorial Hospital, I bore a strong resemblance to any expectant father. A few minutes past 11 am that same day, I became an uncle to a bouncing baby boy.

For those who have trodden the path, it is one of life’s most enthralling adventures. It is my opinion that the joy one thinks one will derive from parenthood is largely an illusion. Nappy, baby powder and cerelac ads make parenthood look like a slice of heaven. On the contrary, there is always a sense of apprehension in parenting- when will my child talk, walk, become the teacher’s pet, break the neighbour’s glass, start using cuss words, fail in an exam, among many others. When the child finally leaves home, parents can’t wait to be grandparents – that’s where unbridled joy lies. Scour the shelves in any book store and you will find that the parenting section has plenty of sugar coated advice on how to be an amazing mom/dad and raise loving families like you see in movies with happy endings. But however hard you search, you won’t find a book on how to be the best uncle/aunt you can be, or how to raise self-confident nephews and nieces.

As an uncle, all I have to do is show up, be the hero and return them to their parents when it’s time to put them to sleep. Children have their own associations. It is a rare occurrence to have either of my nephews come to me asking for a diaper change. Nannies and parents are earmarked for that. But for an evening in the park followed by ice cream, presto, you’re the person who’ll sneak them out and teach them to lie to their parents, keeping a straight face. My nephews have made my visits to Chennai, a city I formerly abhorred for its weather, something I look forward to.

Sometimes, aunts and uncles assume an irritation quotient and slip into the role of agony aunts and uncles, advising you on life, offering to find you a life partner, telling you what to study and generally, being bores. Not all, but some. It is my own reverent wish that I don’t metamorph into one of those people. 

Being an uncle has offered me some of life’s most pristine, innocent and hilarious moments, and has freed me from the constraints of ennui and listlessness. Sample some of these interactions:

1.(Occurred during India’s torrid series in England in 2011)

Pawan: "Aarnav, let’s play cricket."
Aarnav: "ok, I’ll be India, you be England."
Pawan: "ha ha, ok, that means you’ve already lost 4-0." (referring to the test series result)
Aarnav: "No pawan, this is not tests, this is ODIs."



2.Pawan: "Aarnav, if you cycle and swim, you’ll become strong like Hanuman."
Aarnav: "But Aarnav’s don’t have tails."



3. Pawan: "Aarnav, how was the match today?"
   Aarnav: "Everybody played very well, but everyone got out."



4. Father: "Aarnav, the house is in the outskirts of Chennai."
   Aarnav (in all seriousness): "Then appa, what are the inskirts?"



5.The doctors’ son 

While playing scrabble, Aarnav gets the letter e. His choice of word – endoscopy.

On August 9, 2010, I became a proud uncle for the second time to Anuraag. All the things that you attribute to a father, I encompass in my role – devoted, proud, occasionally, reluctant disciplinarian. 

It is said that fatherhood changes a man’s life. Until then, unclehood will do just fine, thank you very much.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When an Iyer met an Iyengar

If you see my parents, they look like the quintessential arranged marriage couple. After nearly 35 years together, they still take care not to touch each other while posing for a photograph and my mother’s smile dangles precariously between a smile and a grimace. But this image discolours the truth a tad.
Some 40 years back, they met at work, fell in love and got married. The talking point of the union being mom’s status as an iyengar and dad’s as an iyer. Simply put, the iyers and the iyengars are two castes of the Brahmin community, each, when given the chance, profess superiority to each other on all counts. If you listen closely, an Iyengar talking about an Iyer will say ‘Iyer a?’ in a condescending tone. And vice versa.
Mom tells me that when she told her dad about the marriage, he vowed to stand by her at any cost. Dad never told me what happened, but allow me to hazard a guess. His mother (my grandmother), threatened to go on a fast unto death. My dad threatened to go on a parall…

Unfair and unlovely

If time is money, the demonetization drive has ensured that many Indians are already very rich because they have suddenly been taught the virtue of patience.
A crossing near my house got to be very busy and a new signal was installed to help regulate the flow. Every single day, I see people break the signal from all sides without paying heed to their safety or anyone else’s. The people who break the signals glare at you for following the rules. You feel guilty for being patient.
The signal is red and people behind you are honking as if there was a reward for it. People shout the choicest of epithets at you for not moving and standing your ground. Either that or I need to go for an eye check up and see if I am colour blind. In another part of the world, orange maybe the new black but as far as I know, red is not the new green.
Stand in a queue at the railway station, in the petrol bunk, airport check-in counter ,or to pay a bill, and there will always be that one asshole who tries to…

Rasam rice

On some days, Bangalore weather becomes nostalgic. And for some time, everyone is permitted to live in the past. On one such June day, the sun wistfully playing hide and seek and the clouds emitting just enough raindrops for an instagram photo, the weather flirting with winter, the craving for rasam becomes telling.
Rasam. Rasam rice. Whichever, doesn’t matter.
First, use your fingers to make space in the middle of a heap of rice. Don’t protest when the dollop of ghee gleefully sinks into the rice. The rasam should scald, otherwise the ride isn’t worth it. The flesh on your fingers crawl when you dip them into the rasam, but trust me, keep with it. No good thing has been known to ever come easy. The impatient wait for a few seconds and an insignificant morsel is savoured. Gooseflesh ensues.
Slowly but steadily, bigger portions are savoured. to enhance the experience and attain nirvana, combine it with crisp papad and sandige.  Personal favourites include molagu rasam, thakkali rasam, jee…