God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made parents. I’ve had a funny relationship with mine over the years. Between the ages of 4 & 10 my grandparents were my parents. It took me a little less than a year to acclimatize to the change of not having parents around. By the end of that first year I completely forgot about my parents, they became vague memories & exotic guests who visited us once or twice a year.
I bragged about my daddy to all my school friends & teachers, he was my knight in shining armour, the cool dude who fought wars for the country & the kind man who brought home the shiniest red apples from Kashmir in large baskets.
Mom was an exotic foreign entity with the shortest hair I’d ever seen on a woman with the fanciest salwar kameezes (which were the height of fashion in the early 90s in Kerala where women had long flowey hair & wore only sarees).
After having served with the Indian Army for more than two decades Daddy finally got a transfer closer to home. His nomadic life brought him & mom to Chennai in 1997. They decided to take me with them to Chennai & before I knew it, the world I had known for 6 years was uprooted from me. I didn’t want to leave my Ammumma & Appuppan. I begged them to fight with my parents, to try & dissuade them from their decision.
“Every child must stay with their parents. It doesn't matter where you live. We will always love you”, said Ammumma with tears in her eyes. From a palatial house in Trivandrum I was suddenly brought to live in a large 3 BHK Army flat near the Marina beach in Chennai (which looked very small to me compared to my home in Trivandrum). I was given a bedroom all to myself with a huge balcony, a bed with pink flowers, a study table & a dressing table.
I was shocked to learn that even my brother was given a room all to himself. I had never slept alone until then. I was so used to snuggling between Ammumma & Appuppan every night that I found it hard to sleep in that alien room, with the perennially windy balcony. Late at night when the last light in the house was switched off, I would quietly sneak out to the balcony, shed a few tears & whisper “Ammumma, Appuppa” into the winds, with the hope that my grandparents would hear me & take me back to Trivandrum.
Years went by & I slowly got used to the Army lifestyle which my parents led. Swims everyday at the olympic sized Madras Gymkhana Club pool that ended with chilli chicken, malabar porotta & Feast or Chocolate Cornotto slowly began to soothe away the pain of staying away from my grandparents. I had to catch a large green army bus/truck every morning to go to school, I got bullied by boys half my age & size (because I was a little bit of a wuss back then). I even got bullied by the pretty didis who were dad’s colleagues children.
Pretty soon I hit my rebellious teen years & like every child in the 90s I gave my parents absolute hell! But being the cool folks they were, they took every tantrum of mine in their stride & gave me all the freedom in the world to do what I want, knowing well that I would never do anything to bring shame to the family.
I had my share of late night outs (which ended in dad giving me a verbal thrashing every single time), some terrible friendships & some terrible bike accidents. My parents thanked the Lord in heaven when I finally overcame this phase & began to focus more on my career & my higher studies.
My parents have been my rock. They’ve been through it all with me & I know they would do it all again. Sorry mom, for all the times I didn’t want to listen to you & took you for granted. Sorry dad, for all the times I made fun of you while you fidgeted around with your smartphone, laptop & digi-cam.
You truly are the best parents in the world & hats off to you for your tolerance levels. With me as your daughter I’m sure it was not an easy ride. I hope to give my children the exact same childhood you gave me & I hope to be as loving, warm, kind-hearted, giving, patient & sensible as you are.