If you were to ask my sons the question “what’s under your pillow?” the prompt answer would be “a matchbox”… Of course, they were but 2.5 months old and couldn’t speak yet but yes, a matchbox!
I imagined finding a matchbox hidden under their pillow when they were 16 years of age and experimenting with smoking perhaps, but finding a matchbox hidden at this age made no sense.
Who knew babies made people crazy, made them do random things? I do, now.
My sons have had a matchbox under their pillow, a dagger under their mattress, a black ‘teeka’ on their head.
They have witnessed banishings, bindings, hex and spells.
There have been pieces of cloth burned at our door, salt has been swirled (for the lack of a better word) around them clockwise and anticlockwise, salt-water has been used to ‘wipe’ clean their eyelids. I even had a gentleman who offered to visit and burn red dry chillies.
I have been reprimanded for posting their photographs on Facebook. God forbid if I posted a picture of my kids on Facebook and they sneezed or worse still caught a cold a few hours later. My family would scream murder! My best friend had, of course, added fuel to the fire by deciding not to put up her child’s picture on Facebook till he was one. My family saw so much sense in that. And yet her son went through the same phases of vomiting, sneezing, coughs and fevers like my sons did. But apparently those were ‘natural’… mine, supernatural?
Early on I was even forbidden from saying nice things to them or about them. So, absolutely NO –1. He’s growing up fast
2. He’s looking so cute
3. He’s sleeping so soundly
4. He’s recovering, looking better
5. He’s always hungry . . . is that even a nice thing to say?
All this because one of the kids would at one time or the other have sneezed, coughed, vomited, run a fever or wailed.
“Nazar” or the “evil eye” had won. The dragon mommy lost this battle, insanity prevailed.
This behaviour wavered as the years passed and the boys grew. The matchbox, dagger and teeka were gone but heaven helps if one of the boys complained of a tummy ache after attending a party where they overate desserts … that Mrs X kept saying he looks so adorable, or if the boys vomited after being out in the sun too long… it was Mrs. Y who kept looking at him… and Mrs Z said they were tall for their age which is why they caught a cold.
‘We’ have now limited our ‘practice of black magic’ to the occasional chasing away of nazar addressing it directly and banishing it away, out of the window into the river leading to the sea.
‘We' still do not click pictures of the kids asleep… in case they stay like that forever. Frozen.
‘We’ do not say too many nice things to them, or well we try. At age 6 it’s often easier to just say, “you look handsome” when they are dressed in a formal shirt for a wedding reception than not just to get them moving and distract them from the 27-minute long argument about them wanting to wear that worn t-shirt because it has Spiderman on it!
‘We’ do not call them back when they on their way out. Jinx.
‘We’ do not look at the food on their plates with too much interest. Gives them a tummy ache. Just like Mrs. X did.
‘We’ chase away their bad dreams by sprinkling ‘holy water’. Those scary villains in the Marvel and DC franchise movies apparently had nothing to do with those.
And yet in all this madness, I find comfort and confusion.
Comfort that my sons are experiencing tradition and that too cross-cultural because there is not one, but an entire army involved (read mother, nannies, house help, driver, family, friends and colleagues).
And confusion because a friend recently saw the boys’ picture on my WhatsApp and wrote back “thu thu”… and for the life of me I couldn’t remember any plan to meet on Thursday!
About Dragon Mommy: She is an IIM alumna who left the corporate world after 15 long years to raise her twin sons in a small town because she wanted to enjoy the simple pleasures of motherhood. Besides she didn’t really have a very successful career in the city. She is single by choice. Not hers. She used to be fun. Now she writes about parenting.