The One-Hundred-and-Thirty-Eighth Chart (Spurts)

August 22, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

A couple of weeks ago Six came to the bathroom as I combed my hair. She told me about one of the Magic Tree House books she was reading. As it usually does with my younger child, talk drifted to other topics. On this day she began discussing China.

“I’m going to move to China when I grow up.”

I entreated her in a melodramatic fashion not to do so, that we would miss her, that she would always be my baby and I couldn’t live without her. She reassured me that she would come back to the States for a visit. Maybe, she ventured, we could even visit her in China.

“But it won’t be the same as living here,” I said with a faux pout.

“It’s okay, Mamma,” she said.

Last week I attended the Writer’s Symposium in Indianapolis at GenCon, so my mom came to town to help out with the kids. On the way home from the airport after picking her up, I told Mom about her younger granddaughter’s aspirations to move to the Far East.

“Mamma,” Six spoke up from the back, “you don’t have to share the private things I tell you.”

Now, if it had been a private conversation, shouldn’t she have indicated that? I mean, it’s not like she’s going to China as an undercover government agent…is she?

With Six, anything is possible.

***

When my mom came we had a couple of days before I went to Indy for the symposium, so we spent that time driving around so she could get familiar with our hometown. On one of those days we stopped to fill the gas tank, and at the gas station I went to the trash can to throw something away. I misjudged from my peripheral vision the distance between the can and the large column behind me, and I ended up banging into the column with my right arm. The emergency shut off button protrudes from the column right at the height of my arm below my shoulder, and I hit my arm right on the muscle.

The result: a nasty bruise that has progressed through all the colors of the rainbow. I’ve never had a bruise quite this bad before. It’s almost two inches by two inches, and it’s been (I have to say it, I’m a writer and find creepy stuff like this) fascinating to watch it change colors.

Of course, as I said it’s right on the muscle, so using my right arm in certain movements makes it hurt. One night earlier this week, I went to Eight to say good night and she asked how I felt.

“It hurts,” I confirmed for her, and sympathy crossed her face.

“Is there anything you can do about it?” she asked.

“I could put some ice on it, I guess,” I said. “But that might hurt a little too.”

“Well, I don’t want you to be hurting,” she said, and all of a sudden I saw it: tact. “But you might want to try to put some ice to help it get better faster.”

I nodded. “I’ll think about it.”

I walked away musing about the way she’d tried so hard to balance the thoughts in the situation, and all of a sudden she seemed a little more grown up to me.

***

In 1998 India celebrated 50 years as an independent country, and in that same year filmmaker Subhash Ghai released Pardes (“Foreign Land”.) Starring Shahrukh Khan, the movie shows how a non-resident Indian (NRI) comes back to his homeland, meets a village belle, and ends up falling for her. There’s a lot more to the movie of course, but the basic “NRI-comes-back-to-India-and-proves-he’s-really-Indian” plot got a lot of traction in the late 1990s/early 2000s in Bollywood.

Many people know that Bollywood films include a lot of music; strictly speaking, most Hindi films are musicals. Pardes was no different, and because filmmaker Ghai had his eye on the release date coinciding with the anniversary of independence he included a song called “I Love My India” sung by the female protagonist. The song, like the movie, became a big hit at the time.

During this past weekend the song aired on one of the many Indian television channels to which we subscribe. Six heard the number and said, “This is the worst song I’ve ever heard.”

The entire family perked up.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s not her India,” Six said. “It belongs to everyone.”

I nodded, but before I could say anything Eight jumped in.

“But they’re saying that because it’s their own country,” she clarified.

Six went back to looking out the sliding door at the bunny rabbit in the yard. “Still, it’s the worst song I’ve ever heard.”

I guess I should be happy that she gets the idea of sharing. Now, if only I could find a way to explain to her that patriotism is as much a personal thing as it is collective.

***

The kids’ vocabulary skills continue to astound me at times.

A couple of days ago before dinner, Six ran upstairs to put something away. I heard her reach the top of the stairs and then a thump.

“Are you okay?” I called from the kitchen, coming to the foyer to look in her general direction.

She peeked over the bannister. “I’m fine.”

“What happened?”

“I stumbled.”

“Did you get hurt?”

“No, I just stumbled.”

Okay, stumbled? Wouldn’t most normal kids her age say they fell down? Should I worry that she knows the difference between stumbling and falling?

About 45 minutes later after dinner, everyone had finished eating and I told Six to take the large spoon out of the yogurt container. To tame down the spices in Indian food, sometimes people will eat helpings of plain yogurt. Six, in particular, loves adding yogurt to her plate at dinnertime.

She grabbed the spoon and asked if she could lick it. I said yes, and she just managed to catch a couple of drips before they hit the table.

“Whoa,” she said, grinning, “I got the yogurt before it fell.”

“I know,” Eight said, “I witnessed it.”

All right, who are these children, and why are they talking like this??

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