Saturday, October 24, 2015


“Some say Gilgamesh is the oldest story ever told and so I’m 
looking it up. It turns out it is, in modern terms, about a 
dictatorial king, his courtesan, and his wild man best friend, 
and I don’t really get it. Perhaps it’s because it’s a man’s story 
and that’s why. I never really did understand all of Poe, or 
Joyce, or Wodehouse, the way I really, really understand the women writers,” Z mused. Then there was the children’s version of Gilgamesh Z decided to get for her sons, hoping they’d like the oldest myth in the world.

After dinner she read it to them. Dev listened intently as always but his question threw her off, ”Don’t I have an uncle by that name?” Yes, it did sound like his uncles’ names, almost all of which ended in the syllable –esh. She thought it was odd she had never in her whole life noticed that before.

“What does Gilgamesh mean?” was Dev’s next question. He had been falling into this habit of asking what every Indian name meant.

“I see here it means ‘one who has seen the abyss'”.

With that their foray into the mythologies of the world ended for the day. She had forgotten to tell him the myth was Babylonian not Indian but a few longitudes here or there didn’t make any difference to one so young she decided. Children see people as people. Their awareness isn’t splintered by race color ethnicity nationality religious affiliation disability or sexual orientation.

This story grew in Z’s mind a little at a time, like “The Blob” and haunted her all her waking hours, a shadowy thing in the gray areas of her imagination. The trio started to come to life. She could hear them talking and laughing and carrying on about their days in the sometime millennium B.C. She knew she had found the handle to a secret passageway of some kind. Without realizing it she had descended into the mythic abyss she had first found after Ma had died. When marriage and motherhood came along she had abandoned her quest. And yet it had found her out seeking her companionship, for what is a quest without its seeker?  But Kingship is never on a woman’s mind until perhaps when the sons start to obsess about King Arthur or some such figure. Thumbelina held the boys’ interest only so long so she began to look for myths and stories Dev and Nikhil liked, and she almost never really liked.

Spongebob was the most perfect example of that. The little yellow critter drove her to the brink of insanity. The boys loved him like a brother. She became a propaganda machine against him and failed. Then she tried to dilute the yellow bellied lily livered porifera messages by adding wholesome amounts of vintage Disney where every body knew right from wrong, firemen rescued kitties from treetops, the men were brave, the women fair, fairy godmothers stopped by, and so on into their daily dose of media. It worked in unexpected ways. She learned the names of all the boys and men in the stories and Dev explained to her that all the trouble in these movies started, especially in Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, because nobody had kicked the bad queen’s arse. They loved Alice for doing just that, and cheered Lara Croft on to her most daring and skimpily clad adventures. All that sword fighting in the collective hours of wholesome tube watching had turned the boys into experts at stick wielding which translated into martial arts lessons and they did rather well at those. And then there still was the trouble with Gilgamesh. Who was he? Why did he haunt her so? Why was that the oldest surviving myth in the world?

Gilgamesh, one who has seen the abyss, slowly stopped to haunt her thus. There were cookies to bake, nursery rhymes to sing, dishes to wash, bills to pay. But a seed had been planted and the seed time was long, unusually long, for this seed.

 Iron John, Odysseus, Gulliver, Caesar, Udayan, Arjun, Zeus, Mowgli, Michelangelo would have to whisper their asides loud and clear before Gilgamesh could come back in Act III.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Uma was, as always, on the road with her young'uns.
They lived in their van, she thought, some days.
Life, as it is now, she rationalized.
Driving on autopilot, she listened in on the conversation in the backseat.
Bindiya now five, Nikhil seven, and Dev nine, were good little children and buckled up always but simply had to talk even though Uma had asked them to let her drive in peace. She also asked the children often to let her R.I.P. (Read In Peace) so they had to pick and choose their battles with Mom over "peace".

Nikhil        :       "Where is God?"

Uma          :       "God is everywhere."

Nikhil        :       "Where is he now?"

Bindiya      :       "God is a she."

Nikhil        :       "He".

Bindiya      :       "She !!"

Nikhil        :       "You think everything is a she."

Bindiya      :       "No I don't."

Nikhil        :       "Is a bus a she?"

Bindiya      :       "No."

Nikhil        :       "Is a lion a she?"

Bindiya      :       "No".

Nikhil        :       "Is the sun a she?"

Bindiya      :       "No".

Nikhil        :       "Is a piano a she?"

Bindiya      :       "I don't know, ha, ha !!"

Nikhil        :       "Is this book a she?"

Bindiya      :       "No".

Nikhil        :       "Am I a she?"

Bindiya      :       "Nooo".

Nikhil        :       "Are you a she?"

Bindiya      :       "Yes."

Nikhil        :       "Is God a she?"

Bindiya      :       "Yes."

Nikhil        :       "See I told you, you think everything is a she."

Bindiya      :       "What???"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


      Little Dev got a shiny new tricycle for his third birthday. He was four and a half now, but he still loved his trike. If he just avoided hitting the handlebars with his knees, he could ride it, and he did, around the house, while Uma cooked, and did her chores, especially while his baby brother slept. Dev had lost his freedom some, having to watch out for Nikhil who now seven months old had learned to walk holding on to the edge of the sofa, getting every where in his waking hours, needing constant supervision. The hour and a half he napped in the afternoons were very precious times for Uma and Dev, studying or chatting without interruption. Most days Nikhil was very cooperative during study time, deeply fascinated by phonics, and books. All he wanted was to be able to sit by Dev whom he worshipped like a god and mimic his every action. Dev was very kind to him and humored him, proud of his precocious baby brother.
      It was two now, Uma was putting the dishes away while Dev rode around on his tricycle.
            Dev         :           Mom, what’s you Daddy’s name?

            Uma        :           Darth Vader.

            Dev         :           Darth Vader? Like in the movies?

            Uma        :           Yes.

            Dev         :           I am so so sorry Mom. I didn’t know. You must be Leah?

                        Little Dev got off his trike and gave Uma a big hug. Uma was taken aback at this reversal of  roles where her little one was the one comforting her, and she, the mother was in need of comforting. She didn't know how to handle the situation, so she fought her tears, put on an amused tone of voice, and barely even hugged him back, because that would mean acknowledging so many things all at once that she wasn't ready to look in the face yet - that she was upset her father was so mean to her; that nobody until this moment had shown her one ounce of sympathy yet; that she was not fully done growing up; that she hadn't quite figured out how her kids had turned out to be so amazing, so if she didn't know, she may or may not have had anything to do with it ...

            Dev        :           Where’s Luke? 

            Uma       :           I don’t have a brother. Grandpa’s no Vader. I was just kidding.
                                      It was a bad joke.

            Dev        :           Was it a joke?

            Uma       :           Yes I know it’s not funny but I’m trying to make it funny so it
                                      ends up being a really bad joke. It is true though that every where    
                                      Grandpa  goes one can detect a disturbance in the Force.

            Dev        :          Why?

            Uma       :          The force is strong with him and I think he grew up believing
                                     he’d be a great jedi knight and that his life would be one long
                                     adventure romance and heroism and all but he forgot all about
                                     being good and being brave.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


A few years later, Nikhil now 16, had been told by his doctor to take a Vitamin D, lots of fish oil, and a Claritin or equivalent each day. It became Uma's job to put those right in his hand every day because he was still not responsible enough to remember to take them on his own. Dinner was done, and she handed him his vitamins and meds and 10 fish oils, saying,"Take them in installments, 2 to 3 at a time."
Nikhil,"It's okay. I can fit them all in my mouth."
Uma,"But you can choke on them."
Nikhil,"I won't   ...   that sounds so wrong, just sooo wrong,'I can fit them all in my mouth'".
Nikhil,"It's like saying look at me, I can suck three dicks at the same time. And sing the national anthem."
Uma,"Shut up Nikhil."

Saturday, October 17, 2015


It was Nikhil's 11th birthday. 

Dev was getting the camera ready and it was taking a while since it hadn't been recharged in quite a while.

Bindiya was impatient,"Can we cut the cake now?"; "Can we please cut the cake?"; "Can we?"; "Can we please please please cut the cake?"... until Dev had heard enough. 

He snapped at her,"When people say there is no such thing as a stupid question they are lying. There is such a thing as a stupid question."

Nikhil who had been patiently waiting to cut his cake, completely quiet until then, said, "There is no such thing as a stupid question until you ask it."

Friday, October 16, 2015


            Many children, cousins and friends, had gathered at Uma’s home for a Halloween party. Dev was absolutely elated to be seen in his costume for the occasion, a rather plain khaki uniform of some kind and a noisy blue lance that lit up. Nikhil was in a Simba suit and roared hello to everyone he met. Bindiya wore an orange pumpkin bib and a neon green foliage headband, and slept through the whole thing. Little Miss B was only seven months old, and Nikhil three. Dev was an older than them, wiser, more knowledgeable seven.

            “Be mindful of the future,” he said, in a conspiratorial whisper to Isha, as she walked past him. She gave him a “whaddyamean” look but garnered no response.  As Isha stepped out the door in her glittering yellow princess costume complete with tiara and scepter, with her plastic pumpkin basket to go trick-or-treating with her friends he called out, ”May the force be with you!”

            The girls left giggling and came back in a while happy cold tired and sated with candy. Dev was back already. “Like to trade?” he asked hopefully.
            “No, not really,” was what he heard mostly.
            “Say, do you know, I can slow down Time and see things happen in slow motion,” he said, ”like in the action replay clips you see on T.V. sports.”
            “Really?” said the Isha’s friend.
            “Yes, I can, I really can.”
            No one said anything and ate more candy instead so he felt he ought to elaborate.
            “I can see things happen s-l-o-w-l-y while I act fast. It’s a Jedi trait. If I practice my skills I should soon be able to see things as they are about to happen.”

            A car honked outside and the girls gathered their various wands and tiaras and baskets and said their goodbyes and left waving from the windows of the car until they were out of sight.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Bindiya was sitting by her brothers eating from her bag of potato chips. Nikhil had already inhaled his whole bagful.

Nikhil     :     “Can I have some?”

Bindiya  :     “No, you ate yours. These are mine.”

Nikhil     :     “How ‘bout five?”

Bindiya   :     “No.”

Nikhil     :     “Four?”

Bindiya   :     “No.”

Nikhil     :     “Three?”

Bindiya   :     “No.”
Nikhil     :     ”Two?”

Bindiya   :     “No.”

Nikhil     :     “One?”

Bindiya   :     “Yes.”

Nikhil     :     “At a time?”

Bindiya   :     “No.”

Nikhil     :     “And a half?”

Bindiya   :     “NOOOO.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


On a golden afternoon in summer Uma sat with her children Bindiya, 7, and Nikhil, 9, with really

nothing much to do, while Dev, 13, was working on a social studies project on the EU.

Nikhil        : “You’re a Rugrat.”

Bindiya     : “No I’m not. At least I don’t watch baby pony shows any more.”

Nikhil       : “Grow up.”

Bindiya     : “Mom, can you tape up Nikhil’s mouth on my birthday?”

Uma         : “Why, is that one of your birthday presents?”

Bindiya     : “No, seriously. And tie him up and put him in a room where no one wants to go.”

Uma         : “Bindiya. Behave.”

Bindiya     : “He’ll just ruin my birthday party. And put ear plugs on him or he’ll keep on

                    interrupting us while we’re listening to our favorite songs he loves to hate.”           
Uma         : “What are you? A dictator? How would you like it if we did the same

                    to you on Nikhil’s birthday?”

Bindiya     : “I’ll just stay in my room. You won’t need to go through all that

                   trouble with me.”

Uma         : “Don’t talk like that ever again. Don’t think like that ever again, you understand?”

Bindiya     : “Okay, whatever. Can we make that pie now? I love to cook with you.”

Nikhil       : “I’m bored.”

Uma         : “Help with the pie.”

Nikhil       : “I don'wanna. I’m bored.”

Uma         : “Unload the dishwasher.”

Nikhil       : “For a buck? Not worth it. Minimum wage is seven twenty-five.

                  Charity begins at home right? So does fairness. I’m bored.”

Uma         : “Unload the dryer.”

Nikhil       : “Too hard. I’m bored.”

Uma         : “It is perfectly legal to be bored.”

Nikhil       : “Then can I do something illegal?”


Nikhil       : “Sorry.”

Bindiya     : “Did you see that? You just got arrested?”

Nikhil       : “SHUT UP. I wish I was old enough to swear. Or brave enough.

                    Dev swears a lot these days.”

Uma         : “He does? What does he say?”

Bindiya     : “The ‘f’ word?”

Uma         : “f-a-r-t?”

Bindiya     : “No Mom, the real f-word.”

Uma         : “What is the real f-word?”

Bindiya     : “The whole world knows and you don’t?”

Nikhil       : “See, I told you Mom is not foolproof. I used to think she was. But she’s gullible.”

Bindiya     : “Don’t you know Mom, f-u-k?”

Nikhil       : “You missed a ‘c’ Bindi.”

Just then Dev stood in the doorway laptop in the crook of his arm.

Dev          : “Mom is there an ‘e’ in INTERPOL?”

Uma         : “Yes there is.”

Dev          : “I mean two ‘e’s. ”

Uma         : “No. Just the one.”

Dev          : “So this must be a typo. They spelled it with an ‘e’.”

Uma         : “Let me see. Did they start with an ‘e’??”

Dev          : “No, look, they finished with an ‘e’, like it is spoken, and it looked

                   different to the eye from having seen it in my book so I thought I’d

                   ask you since you are a walking dictionary.”

Uma         : “Thank you son. But I might never have known if I wasn’t the

                   daughter of policeman and an English teacher.”

 And she held back her laughter as she thought of the Freudian  implications of that mix up.

Bindiya     : “Can we please make the pie now?”

Uma         : “Sure. Let’s go.”

They put all the ingredients on the table. Uma kneaded together the flour and butter

when the doorbell rang. Dev would answer it so she didn’t bother. It was usually

one of his friends this time of the day. She heard him yelling loudly a moment later,

                  ”DON'T EVER COME HERE AGAIN.”

The door slammed and he came into the kitchen looking angrier than she had ever seen him.

Dev          : “There’s a bag of flour on the doorstep. Don’t touch it.”

Bindiya     : “Great, we could make more pies.”


Uma         : “What’s all the fuss about?”

Dev          : “My stupid friends left a bag of flour that they used for ‘Take Care Of Baby’ week for health                        
                   class on our doorstep and dingdong ditched. I know exactly who they are. They’ll check to

                   see if we picked it up. DON”T TOUCH IT.”

Uma went to the porch to investigate. A torn bag of flour with a 12’’ picture of cartoon character Stewie

Griffin in a blue sweater and yellow diaper pasted on it lay on the first step. This was very disturbing. And

very funny. She had some thinking to do. And then some talking. Children can’t just raise themselves. It

takes not quite, but almost, a village. It sure takes a family. Or a very spunky kid who can take charge of
his own upbringing. Hopefully they had all the right ingredients for raising these young ones.