Scenario No.1: I could be cutting veggies in the kitchen with my back turned towards the kitchen door.
Scenario No.2: I could be bending down & taking the clothes out from the washing machine.
Scenario No 3: I could be standing 3 inches away from the television and closely following the climax of a movie.
It could be anyone of the above scenes……..but the end remains the same.
My daughters[either 1 of them] would come from behind & give my butt a gentle thwack and giggle in glee.
“Don’t do that” I’d say impatiently.
“Sauwrieee” they’d laugh & dodge out of the way…..until the next time. And I would keep thinking that something has to be done before they get out of hand. Just imagine if they started doing it in front of other people.
Both Nikita & Naina have their own ways in which they conduct this time-pass activity. Nikita who knows very well that I don’t like it often just gently patted it….it was almost as if she couldn’t help it. But Naina, she approached it more matter of factly…...those tiny fists would have a go at the highlighted area like a boxer & the mouth would chant in rhythm “Dishoom, dishoom, dishoom”. I’d then pretend to reach for the stick and she’d vanish from there like an elf who smelt trouble.
And they do it to my tummy too. I actually find the whole thing funny but am always careful to hide the fact. I certainly don’t want them thinking that my body parts were made for their entertainment. Just a hint of a smile & they’ll be all over me……and so I generally do the headmistress act.
Oh and the questions I get…..
“Why is your tummy so….so big Mama????” is usually ignored the 1st time it is asked. But even after 2 minutes the child is standing there expectantly waiting for an answer I sigh & tell her “My tummy was very flat in the beginning…..just like urs. But as you grew inside, my tummy had to grow to make space for u”
“Ooooohhhhh, so that’s why, but..... after I came out why didn’t your tummy go back to being flat???”
“I have no clue baby….it is the many mysteries of nature of which I have no control over” I mutter as I avoid her eyes.
I then change the topic & she lets it be. But one day when she patted my tummy affectionately and poked one finger hard into the middle just the way I do after I knead chapatti atta into a smooth ball. I knew the time had come for a serious talk.
“When I was around your age I used to do the same to my mama” I began.
“Do what Mama????” asks Nikita all bewildered.
“I too used to always make fun of my mama’s stomach, always patting it & irritating her, just like how you and Naina do to me,” I said carefully.
“And then???” asks Nikita interestedly.
“Then my mama used to tell me that if I did not stop making fun of her, one day I would get a bigger stomach than hers but I never listened” I said dolefully.
“And” prompts Nikita fascinated.
“And………..what she said came true” I said mournfully.
I let the silence stretch & watched while the implications of making fun of me sunk in.
“But I’m not fat like u” ventures Nikita hesitantly.
“When I was your age I was thinner than u” said I, drawing a stick-figure on the wall with my finger to emphasize the fact.
My sweet little girl got so jacked that after that day she has never mentioned or disrespected my butt or tummy again. And I patted myself on the back.
Naina[6 yrs] who was not around when the above conversation took place continued to exercise her rights. Since she is a good 2 & a 1/2 years old younger than her sister I used to let it go with a warning. But she was getting more adventurous by the day that I was forced to enact the above drama once again for her benefit.
As soon as I concluded she went into a fit of giggles. Obviously the drama & its dangerous implications did not have the same impact on her. Then when I put on this sad smiley expression she quickly straightens her face and exclaims “Mama I was trying to help you”.
“I was actually helping you push it back in” Naina looks carefully into my face to see whether I swallowed her story. She then gives me 2 quick pats as proof of her dedication and darts out of the room almost as if she expected the level of conversation to deteriorate if she stood there a minute longer. I laughed so much that day.
Hmmm……yeh tho apni ma ki ma ki ma nikhli…...kuch aur sochna padega*
* Hmmm....she turned out to be her mother's grandmother......have to come up with something else