The only ones

"Hello dolling", said a cheery Sid, sailing into the room, pushing Molly off the dining room chair and plonking himself down.  "Whatcha doin?", he asked, peering over my ipad.  I looked at him square in the face and said, 'Bubz, do you think a family is not a family without children, or less of a family? Why does starting a family imply that only children make a family?" He looked a bit puzzled and looked at my comfortable belly - 'What? Are you pregnant? What is going on? I didn't do it!' I swatted him over the head, 'Do you even think before you blurt out anything that is in that egg-shaped head of yours?'  He looked serious and said "please yaar...nonsense shonsense, whatever makes your stew/rocks your socks/one plus one or two plus two whatever works for you". I grinned at him and rubbed his bald head, "Always so articulate".

But it made me think about the general perception about having children. I think some children are lovely (Rishan is my all time favorite!) but I have always believed (for myself. What others believe is their business entirely) that it is a choice and one that should be taken only if you really want to have children.  I don't doubt that the love one experiences will be nothing that one has ever experienced before, I have my reservations that the joys and rewards will balance out the stress and compromise, and I strongly disagree that it is a must.

As I sit around dangling my legs over Sid's and we heave a sigh of relief that the dogs have finally settled

down to sleep after a usual morning of mayhem (rushing around the house at break neck speed, upturning of water bowls 4 times within 15 minutes so they can splash around in the water and then bounce on the beds and wet the sheets, cleaning up after accidents in the balcony as a result of them drinking too much water, someone shredding socks into bits while the other throws up 6 undigested jelly beans (stolen goods), knocking each other down, etc and then rinse-and repeat).  Our
house is utter chaos on any given day or at least while the dogs are awake.  But it was our choice to have them in our lives - a very planned one, and this is our family. Perhaps incomplete to some, not a family to others, but this family means the world to me.  It's bloody hard work and anyone who has seen us with our dogs will know that all the nonsensical pampering and effort we make for them may not be necessary, but it is the only way Sid and I know :)

The other day Sid got into an argument with a lady who came tearing up the stairs, almost passing out in the process, and huffed and puffed angrily at him:

"Your dog...maid...pulled out of lift...not done"
"Excuse me"
"I literally pulled your maid and dog out out of the lift"
"Why on earth would you do that?"
"It's not allowed"
"Says who?"
"Says society"
"My my aren't you a social champion, is society objecting to my dog or our Sarina using the lift, because we saw that sickening notice put up about 'all help prohibited from using the new lift'?"
"Both...I mean dog, and I mean the colony society, not society. I in fact love dogs, I'm just telling you the rules"
"I don't care...those rules are against the law, so nainy nainy neh neh"
"Are you against the society? What if it dirties the lift"
"My god, we'd be lucky if it were that easy. Our dogs take hours to do anything outside, I'd be thrilled if it was as quick as that"
"Is this a joke to you?"
"Look lady, I really don't want to waste your time. But if my dog were to miraculously do her business in the lift, we will clean it up. We do have that much sense.  If you've ever seem my wife
walk around with little baggies in case of accidents you would understand"
"But that is not the point"
"Then what is?"

He then turned to the lift and showed her the interiors through the open doors -"Look at what is written on the walls- pappu luvs jilmil...they didn't have time to spell 'loves' correctly.  And there is a lovely hand print scratched in good and proper with just the middle finger up, really classy! Ooh and there is just the word 'Sex' - fantastic, don't you think? And last I knew my dogs couldn't write, Molly did once scribble on the bed with a marker to make what could have been the sun, but I think she was just running wildly in circles. Oh and they don't eat ice cream either", he pointed to the empty wrapper littered in the elevator. "So should we ban children from the elevator? We would definitely see much better spelt and perhaps more articulate writing on the walls from adults, don't you think?"

"But they're children! This is only a dog". I gasped audibly and looked at Sid who had turned a bright red and looked ready to explode.  This is a man who slapped a child for pelting stones at a dog; dragged a man of his scooter for kicking a pooch; had a shouting match with a restaurant owner when he saw one of the staff shoving a cat with his foot. I felt sorry for the lady.

My gasping and his crimson-ness didn't seem to affect her as she opened her mouth to continue her train of thought.  But before she could utter another word Sid took off at the speed of a "Mutualfunds-aresubjecttomarketrisksreadtheofferdocumentcarefullybeforeinvesting" disclaimer.

She shouted about him shouting, he said she started it, she said she wouldn't talk to him ever again, Sid said jolly good, she said I am just telling you the rules, he said she needed to know Indian animal welfare rules before charging after Sarina and our dog, she said whatever, he said I'm not finished, she repeated what-Eva with a little more attitude and started walking down the stairs. He charged after her like a raging bull sputtering out a volley of words out of which I only caught a few like "court...preposterous...nonsense...ouch", that last word accompanied by a slide and a thump as he bounced down the bottom few steps. I went in to get Sarina's entertaining version and Sid joined us within minutes.

He was whistling and looked rather cheerful, which was strange considering the red hot chase down the stairs  I witnessed a few minutes earlier. "All ok Bubz?". He took a long swig of beer before I reminded him that it was 9 am and tea might be better suited to the time of day. He considered this
and brushed it off, "Nice lady...I once helped her with her groceries". I obviously looked puzzled, "Poor thing I think she looked quite fed up with me. Told me to stop shouting, I told her I wasn't and that my normal voice was rather loud and shrill - a fact that even you have lamented and tried to shut out by giving me the death-stare or throwing things at me, she said she didn't know about all these laws I was talking about and blah blah and she didn't want to fight. We parted amicably and all is well."

I patted him on the head and well-done'd him thinking about how deeply rooted these perceptions are. Our
choices and our family are lower in the elevator chain because well 'it's only a dog', but if I had a serial-litterer-too-lazy-to-spell-when-scribbling-child, we could be elevated (quite literally). I was rather irritated about a callous observation some time ago by someone about us not having children making things less complicated if ever things were to go wrong. Implying that our family or relationship had less value than families with children, 'only a dog' making it less complicated/emotionally turbulent if things were to go wrong! I find that strange. Having children, not having children, adopting an aunt or a pet or a child, whatever works for you but it would be nice if people just understood and respected alternative types of family structures...whether kids, pets, parents, an old friend who lives down the street, our crazy Sarina, or whoever it's not 'only a dog' or 'only two people' or 'only the maid' for us.  In our little world they're the 'only' ones.


Anand said…
C....Pregnant again
Susan Dhavle said…
YOUR train of thought pretty good Reem....and so correct...there are all kinds of families. Your choice is yours. Good for you. This story had the perfect beginning, middle and ending. Keep going....

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