“Huh!” I heaved a welcome sigh of relief. My son’s exams were over. I was free once again to do all that I wanted. No need of yelling until I got hoarse. No need of restricting my television programmes. No need of trying hard to stay away from the computer. Wow! It has been ages since I felt this wonderful feeling of freedom! I was free!
Am I sounding weird? Maybe, but I had been slogging for two weeks, studying with my son. All those subjects that I had left way behind, ages ago I had had to pick up and re-read them again. Apart from that, I had to undergo those butterflies in my stomach every time my son was leaving for school, anxiously wondering how he would do in his exams. Curiously, I did not feel this way when we were posted in Palakkad. Maybe, it was the school or the place itself that made my son and me relaxed. Maybe, this sudden move to a new place resulted in a transformation of a peace-loving-happy-go-lucky person into a nagging, anxious, irritated monster! Of course, as soon as my son left for school I forgot instantly about his exams once I got busy with work at home. Occasionally, a phone call from my father in the midst of my cooking or writing opened the Pandora’s Box of school, performance, expectations, portions, timetable and what not. Both my father and I could not help it though as my son’s Naanu was very concerned that his only grandson performed well in school. In spite of all these years, my father’s yardstick of expectations remained the same from daughter (in my heyday) to his grandson now. But, I did find (to my chagrin) that he seemed a wee bit lenient while gauging my son’s study quotient. Hmmn. What I did not get way back from my father then, my son was getting now from his grandfather. I wonder why I was not judged so liberally then.
My husband keeps off me during my son’s exams. He knows that the woman he married suddenly changes into some queer person, someone he had definitely not bargained for when he said ‘I do’ years ago. ‘Ek doosra roop dhaaran kar liya hei’ my mother would say. Exactly. So, if hubby dear needs food, ironed clothes or even a chat he decides its best he either fends for himself or gears himself for some procrastination. Who knows what this exam-obsessed tantrum-causing woman could do? He is relieved too that my son’s exams are over. “It’s not for you but for my son. For sometime at least he is free of your squabbling and scolding,” he says. Looking at my exhausted expression he hastily makes up and very diplomatically tells me, “Of course, it is always nice to have my dear old wife back.”
“Dear I may be but old? Who the hell are you talking about?” I scream back.
Hubby and son realize that the side effects of the weeklong exam preparation are still prevalent.
“Let’s play something Papa,” my son asks his father and they both leave me alone.
I remember my mother teaching me. I remember getting whacked every now and then. I remember being scolded too. But, I do not think she ever got so anxious. She taught me like a professional unfazed and methodical. Of course, there was no television or computer to distract her or me. It was only later that this addictive distraction crept into our lives. By then, I had got accustomed to a study schedule, which did not demand watching television. Today, my son wants to watch the television at the drop of a pin. I remember being sent everyday by my mother to have my regular doze of play outside, on the street with the other children. Today, my son is given so much homework that by the time he is over with everything it’s time to have dinner, watch a wee bit of television and then wind up for the day. I really sympathize with the poor chap. We too did get homework to do but it always left us with time for ourselves.
I try hard to incorporate in my son the values that my mother incorporated in me. My son was particularly fond of her so that makes it easy to sound sense to him. Yet, I sometimes fear losing the child in me especially during these exam times. I have to become a hard disciplinarian, something that I don’t always like doing. At other times (no exam) you will not believe it – my husband says that he has to take care of two children, one his son and the other, you got it right – ME! And, two playful children can be quite a handful. I find that part of me sink somewhere whenever I catch this exam fever.
Today, all of us sat down to watch a funny movie on television. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly munching the snacks that I had taken care to make (much to the surprise of my husband and son). We made plans as to how we would spend our weekend, where we would go, whom we would visit, what games we would play and also ‘can I watch at least an hour of Cartoon television?’ by my son.
My father called me again. He wanted to know how my son had done in his exams. As an afterthought, Papa asked me, “Kya beta, exam ka bhooth utar gaya?”
‘Haa Papa, until the next exam!”