18 March, 2009

I Thunk ......

Ever watched language abilities evolve in a child ? I mean, we all see our kids’ vocabulary grow with time …. but no thought process gets specifically attributed to this ……… it is assumed that a child’s vocabulary growing is about as natural as each and every one of us inhaling and exhaling air. It simply happens without one even realizing it. Sure - we, as parents, do stress on the correctness of language and the specifics of phonics and phonetics while teaching or helping our kids brush up on their ever expanding vocabulary.

But do we actually stop to think, enjoy and cherish the journey as children continue to add new words and meanings and form their very own dictionaries. Sometimes, maybe we do. But for the most part, come to think of it, the answer to that question would be in the negative. We do take a lot of pride in the fact that our children have a huge arsenal of words at their disposal and that they know what word to use when but many a times what we tend to miss out on is the beauty of the very process of change and development on the language front.

This fact struck me this morning when the younger sibling said “Some of the children brought empty cereal boxes to class yesterday while some did not”. Though the immediate mind registered the fact that the sentence was grammatically correct and while there was a distinct sense of delight in the fact that sentences now are being constructed with an increasing awareness of grammar, somewhere in the back of my mind a small voice said “Hey – was there not something wrong with that sentence ?”. In terms of Abhayspeak, I mean.

Took a couple of minutes for the fact to register – the fact that he never ever used to use the word “brought” in his sentences. Words like “brought”, “thought”, “fought” etc … were an anathema as far as younger sibling was concerned.

In terms of Abhayspeak, the correct word was not “Brought” but “Brung” ……… “He brung this to school”, he'd say as if the word "brung" was the most natural thing in the world.

Similarly “Thought” would be so naturally and casually replaced with the word “Thunk” ……. “I Thunk that the news was at 7 pm” he would say and that was akin to waving a red flag right under the nose of the elder sibling who would, exasperation dripping from each of her words, immediately pipe up “Abhay PLEASE – It is so NOT Thunk – the word is Thought and NOT Thunk”.

Many a days, while the elder sibling stared in absolute horror, we would be treated to a literary onslaught – Abhay style. “Today Nick thunk that he had brung his favorite toy to school but Sam made fun of him and then they fighted a lot.”

And somehow along the way we missed out on how the “Thunk” changed into “Thinked” and how the “Brung” changed into “Bringed”. And now that he uses grammatically correct words, the vocal thumps of the earlier Thunks and Brungs sound so awesomely cute.

It was that grammatically correct sentence, spoken today morning, rather naturally, that made me realize that another phase had just ended and a new one begun.

And yeah, I realized much to my own chagrin today that I really miss those “Thunks” and the “Brungs”.

Think I should ask him what happened to all those "Thunks" and "Brungs" ?? :)

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03 March, 2009

Memories .........

A flood of memories, a deluge of reminiscences …….is what has been happening lately.

Little little bits and pieces of memories from my toddler days thru childhood have been coming back to mind over the past month or so – memories so clear that they seem startlingly vivid, memories that were not meant to be forgotten, memories that I hold close to my heart, memories that have left and still continue to leave imprints upon my heart and psyche, memories which have distinctly helped shape my life in a multitude of ways, memories that have withstood the test of time, memories which I treasure, memories which I’ll hold on to as I move on with life.

Little snippets of conversation from decades ago have been registering within the conscious mind – some serious, some hilarious. At times, it feels as though there is a photo reel playing over and over again – a photo reel that had hitherto been lying deep in the unconscious mind, covered in dust due to lack of use. Toddlerhood, childhood, school days, college life, marriage, leaving India and settling abroad – it’s all coming back with distinct clarity.

I cannot put my finger on when this deluge actually started but the one thing I do realize is that I’m feeling the full force of these recollections over the past couple of weeks ….. It has been two weeks since appa passed away and never before has his presence been so very acutely felt.

Everytime I venture into the kitchen for something as simple as a cup of coffee, I can almost visualize my father standing there early in the morning, making fresh coffee decoction and then making coffee for the rest of us. And all through the kaapi making process, he would be humming along – either something classically Carnatic or something classically appa.

Everytime during the past couple of weeks, boiling milk in the afternoons reminded me of appa – for it was a chore he took very seriously. He would repeatedly keep stirring the milk till it bubbled and boiled. Despite the rest of us telling him that the milk need not be stirred repeatedly, he still would – because he claimed that it added that “little something extra” to the milk.

The slightly chilly weather that is persisting in HK took me down memory lane instantly - I remember how on chilly winter mornings, as he took me over to school, he would distract me and keep my attention fixed on something on the roads or the buildings so that me, all bundled up in a sweater, would not decide to complain about the cold just for the sake of complaining.

Any grave mistake of mine would be greeted with a look of gentle reproach – there never was a verbal rebuke or admonishment of any kind. But it was that look of gentle reproach that had the ability to make me acknowledge and correct my mistakes. It achieved what a loud verbal criticism or reprimand could not have.

Of late, when I wake up in the morning, I still hear my father’s voice in my head – reciting the Lalitha Sahasranamam – like he used to – every single day during my growing years. All through my childhood, I used to wake up to the voice of my father chanting the Lalitha Sahasranamam – each and every single day.

There have been plently of situations over the past month that have reminded me of his absolutely wicked one-liners. There was indeed a streak of humor that was his own brand. A sense of humor so well sheathed that when unleashed, it would create a situation dangerously hilarious.

Through his life which saw many episodes of hospitalization due to his chronic asthma, right down to about a month back when he was hospitalized when ALS progressed through his body with alarming rapidity, not once do I remember him asking “Why Me ?”.

Through life as I can remember it, what shines through strong and bright is the totally selfless nature that my father was blessed with. And through his life he did not let that value pass him by – both during his good days and the bad ones. I am yet to meet a person more selfless than he was and I sincerely doubt that I ever will come across such an unselfish person ever.

In the unobtrusive, unassuming, unpretentious approach that has always been his trademark, he has left a vacuum in our lives.

Pretty much like the tide which recedes and leaves behind seashells on the wet sand, pretty much like the sun which sets and yet leaves its warmth …………… memories, treasured memories remain etched.

Like William Wordsworth once said

Ye that through your hearts today
Feel the gladness of the May !
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever be taken from my sight.
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.


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