Five more minutes (a poem)

Let me sleep for five more minutes

5:45 AM the alarm goes off. The third in a series of alarms spaced 15 minutes apart.

Mom and dad are out walking or running or cycling or swimming or just waiting for us to restart.

Ira my younger sister is cosily snuggled into my side breathing heavily ignoring the alarms like me. Let me sleep five more minutes.

The main door opens and closes, dad is whistling and calling out to Ira and me. Ira bounces up all sunshine and daisies and everyone is rolling about in our bed, Iru and I go “eeewww you are all sweaty”.

He’s been out jogging with mamma. Ira bounds off like the little mutt that she is after mamma. Let me roll over and sleep for five more minutes, just five.

Ira has had a shower and is all dressed and ready for school. The alarm goes off again. This time I know it’s 7:35 coz I can smell the coffee from the percolator. Dad’s onto his second cup for the day while he prepares breakfast for us.

Mamma is calling out to me, urgently now, saying she’ll leave without me if I’m not ready in five. I continue to stay put, it’s a Thursday for heavens sakes. The weekend is so far, let me sleep for five more minutes.

The door opens and closes, moms gone and so is Ira. Dad’s on the phone with his client, to think it’s well past one in Australia. Let me continue to sleep for five more minutes and then I’ll get up and enjoy my self sanctioned holiday.

8:30 AM and I’m finally up. Dad’s busy on his workstation, moms at office and already in the middle of a discussion. Ira is at school doing her ABCs. What do I do now? I get ready, make the bed, have the eggrolls dad had made for breakfast and settle down with a book watching the waves roll in and the sea gulls soar over the mangroves outside our window. Oh boy, time does slow down when you’re on your own. Good thing I have a new book in which to drown.

It’s 8PM now, the day is done and everyone is back home. I am happy about my break from school but it’s done now. I missed all my dear friends and most of all I missed Anshu ma’am.

It’s fun to take a break but it’s even more fun to go back. So my bag is packed, my uniform is on the chair, the checklist for bedtime is all ticked and I’m off to sleep. Tomorrow I will wake up on the first alarm and make sure I’m at the door at 7:40AM, right beside mamma and Ira to make the leap.

5:45AM, the third alarm goes off…. I’ll sleep for just five more minutes!

what do I want to be

This is one question that has been on my mind for a while now “what do I want to be when I grow up”. Now I believe that by thinking for a long time  about this question I have a vague idea. It’s more of an idea about what I would want to be like rather than a specific career goal. I’ve arrived at it after looking at people around me, essentially my parents, understanding what is important and what is trivial and finally answering my own question. I would like to be the best at whatever I finally choose to do in life.

The important things I have understood, mostly by observing my own mother, is that I want to be truthful. Truthful to myself about what I am doing. Being true to others is easy what is difficult is being true to your own self. I understand that whatever my mother does is done with all her heart and soul. She never starts something that she cannot or does not finish. It could be a huge software project at office, a beautiful art project at home or a simple thing like reading a book, she gives it all her energy and makes sure she does it with focus and finishes it. That for me is something I want to be able to achieve when I finally arrive at my career in life. I want to persevere and complete my projects rather than give up and walk away in the middle just because I run into problems. I have observed my father as well and from him I have learned that it is very important to think, research and be well informed about what one speaks about. He has shown me that it is important to be compassionate and helpful to everyone around us, to go out of our way to solve problems. He has also taught me that it is important to be independent and disciplined in life and not be too worried about norms that the world runs by rather write my own rules. He also tells me that there are lofty ideals of doing good for the world and making a difference to humankind however  one should rather focus on doing whatever one is  doing to the best of their abilities, the world will take care of itself if everyone stays truthful. 

So yes at the end of the day what I would like to be is an amalgamation of all of these and so many more qualities. What I finally end up doing will depend largely on my journey. I could be a doctor, a software programmer, an innovator, a scientist, an artist, a social worker, an author or I could just go backpacking around the world and blog about it. Whatever I do I will do it with dedication, sincerity and persevere in my quest for excellence because end of the day my competition is with myself and I want to do better every day than I did yesterday.

our very own Olympian!!

Today Ria came down the steps of her school at dispersal time all beaming ear to ear. Some time back we had come to know that madam had achieved international first rank in the english olympiads . Today her medal, certificate and prize had arrived and she was presented with those during the school assembly. The fact that she had achieved something at such an early age is indeed commendable. The story behind the Olympic gold is what is really interesting and needs recording for posterity.

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About 10 days before the exam I had asked Ria about her preparations, just in passing because I saw the book related to the exam in her room. She has been an avid reader and already has a pretty formidable vocabulary. The fact that she took up reading and, like her mother, loves to be with her books rather than socialize was a good thing to have happened…. both of us believe that you can never be bored in life if you love to read, there will always be a book that can keep you occupied. Thankfully the kids are picking that up and even the little one is slowly getting drawn to books. So yeah great vocabulary and yes all along from an early age she’s been a pretty confident speaker as well. Coming back to 10 days before the test, I asked and she said she’s done it all. Ok!! that was an alarming statement…. I am the sort of procrastinator who will postpone anything and everything till after the due date (have been meaning to write books all my life I guess it’ll happen from the other side of the grave) and if anyone asks me “so all done” my instant reply is “yes all set”….. chances are I might not even know what the guy is asking about! So suspecting that the guava hadn’t fallen too far from the tree I asked her to sit down and we had a talk. By the end of it we agreed to just go through the book, which has sample question papers, once before the exam just so we know what to expect. We did manage to stick to the plan and covered decent ground for the first few days but then once we had reached around 70% of the book the urgency sort of petered off.
So one fine morning my parents were visiting and Ria being the pampered grand kid decided to skip school to hang with dadi. I was like ok fine. We often skip school and go to a park nearby just so she knows there’s no pressure to perform at school and that she needs to go only if she wants to. So bunking is no big deal really. Note to the flabbergasted person reading this: try it, it works wonders for the kids, it does. Anyway so school bunked, breakfast done I sauntered into her room and again that workbook was there sitting on the shelf like a forgotten heirloom. I called out to her and said “you have just a few days till 20th for the exam come lets go over the rest of the chapters”. My moms ears perked up. She’s like “when is the test?” I said “it’s on the 20th”… so she says “what’s the date today?” I check my phone and I’m like “holy pumpkin risotto” (ummmm kaddu ki khichdi)…… I immediately called up the school and told them that we had forgotten about the test and wanted to know if coming in a little late would be ok (school starts at 8:20 and now it was already past nine). The receptionist said I’ll talk to the class teacher and get back to you, how soon can you reach? I said I can be there by 9:15. She called back as we were getting into the car “Ok mister Khan please come fast as the test has already started at 9AM”. My mom accompanied us to the school and I think all her appreciation for how calmly, safely and comfortably I drive and how I am the best driver among all the boys in the family went right out the window that day. I drove like a, well….. ok yes…. an idiot. We did manage to cover a distance that normally takes us 10 minutes in like 6 minutes but that’s still idiotic driving. Anyway so that was how she gave this exam.

The take away(s) from this story are many, again different people will take away different messages, some that stand out for me:

  1. if it’s meant to be
  2. if you like doing something and enjoy the process there’s a very good chance that you’ll get good at it
  3. a little bit of focus goes a long way
  4. always check the day and date when you wake up, your mom will not always be around to remind you
  5. kids learn from elders so if you are a procrastinator with no respect for time, social norms and formalities they will be the same. It’s a double edged sword so be very careful about what you’re passing along
  6. If she had not come first I would not have been writing this story but that does not mean I would be sulking. Test results, appreciations, scholarships, medals, achievement certificates are pointless if you know that the means were not just. If the child had spent hours mugging up the course-ware and gone and puked it all on the answer sheet to achieve a top rank I would’ve been repulsed in equal measure by the outcome. It would certainly not have earned her an ice cream. But this was sweet, this was just a reiteration of the fact that she achieved something on actual merit based upon her interests not because she slogged like an ass trying to learn by rote and achieve a target.
  7. She’s doing just fine all that we need to do is once in a while check in to make sure she has the required tools in place and is adequately stimulated. For instance I recently introduced her to Logo programming and she is on a roll, has taken to it like a fish to water. Again a logical extension of her inherent capabilities as both parents are superb programmers. Sonali has been encouraging her with craft and art, oh the truck load of supplies Amazon delivers for these three girls every month!!!
  8. The job for us as parents is to introduce them to what could be interesting stuff then set them free, let them explore and decide for themselves. Once they know they will follow through. Who knows she will be the one writing my books for me once I’m gone :)) finally end the procrastination!
  9. Oh yes most importantly, nothing is wasted ever, all the time, effort, energy, resources they will bear fruit in some manner or the other. You need to not keep checking the tree for fruit everytime after you water a plant or give it some sun shine. Similarly with kids and people you are invested in you need to resist the temptation to look for immediate results. Enjoy the journey, the destination if it arrives would be very underwhelming if you haven’t enjoyed the journey.

Ria’s current favourite lullaby …

… in her own voice

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This is what she asks me to sing every night these days when she cuddles up at bedtime. Also sings along most of the time. And goes to sleep in a minute or two 🙂