During one of our classes in B-school, I was introduced to the concept of 5Ws and 1H. While creating a blue draft of an entrepreneurial idea, we had to come up with a solution to the questions related to why, when, where, who, what and how. I was so fascinated by this streamlined process of questioning that any conversation related to the most inane of things had me asking queries in the format of 5W and 1H.
For instance, when the college canteen had managed to churn out yet another bland meal on yet another regular day, I walked up to the canteen manager and thought of bringing a direction to my pattern of questioning. So I asked,
“Who prepared this food?”
“Why is the canteen food always tasteless?”
“When was the last time that you served a meal that didn’t deserve to be trashed?”
“What will make you feel that it is essential to serve an edible meal?”
“Where do you see yourself next year, if the quality doesn’t improve and we refuse to let the management renew your contract?”
“How many more complaints do you need to take an action?”
The man was too stunned to even consider a reply. Before I could unleash another layer of 5W and 1H on him, my friends had dragged me away from the canteen. Needless to say, the canteen served an equally bland meal the next day. Just that the man at the counter went missing after spotting me entering the canteen.
This went on for a few more days before I found my next subject of interest in the form of SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis. Life eventually moved on from those classrooms to office boardrooms. The questions turned more relevant and job oriented.
It was only after Tuneer started talking that I was reminded of 5W and 1H once again. From blabbering gibberish to uttering first monosyllables and then broken sentences, the boy picked up communication very fast. Like I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, this verbose nature was reserved only for the house. For the world outside these four walls, he was a very shy and quiet child.
Once he started preschool, he developed the skill to seek answers to satisfy his curiosity. I have always believed that a child deserves to get a proper answer to all his questions and in words befitting his age. I had long decided not to give him any irrelevant answer or mention fairy tales as a solution to his questions. I had also told my family members that we needed to encourage Tuneer to ask more questions since he was at the stage where his curiosity was developing and it was essential that he knew only the right facts.
All the above ideas seemed quite good and I ensured that they were executed with thorough precision. Every time Tuneer asked a question, I engaged in a detailed discussion with him. This went on quite well until he started understanding a little more about his surroundings. Because of his keen observant nature and natural curiosity towards every possible item, suddenly the conversations started revolving around,
“What is this?”
“Why is sky blue?”
“Why can’t I eat more chocolates?”
“Who ate my sweet?”
“When can I play?”
“Where are you going?”
“How does one sleep?”
And that was just the beginning of such deadly non-stop questioning sessions.
As he started developing a love for reading (something that makes me feel really happy), especially the series of Peppa Pig books, the questions were focussed on,
“Why does Peppa jump in muddy puddles? Why don’t you allow me to do that?”
“Why is Peppa a pig and Suzy a sheep?”
“Who is Emily Elephant’s mother?”
It always ended with the conclusion, “Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig are the best. They allow Peppa and Geroge to splash water, jump in muddy puddles and eat chocolate cake.” Sr. T was still good in his books though I had slipped many positions in front of the amazing pig parents.
When we started preparing Tuneer for the admission interview sessions, he wasn’t very happy about this sudden change in the routine where he was encouraged to use familiar English words or answer questions. Until then, he was confident that asking questions was strictly his domain of expertise while we were labeled as ‘answer vending machines’. Very soon, these questions started flying back at me,
“Why do I need to give an answer in the interview?”
“Why should I speak in English?”
“Who is Sonia? Your name is Mummum only.”
“What is your grandfather’s name?” (and then proceeded to know all the names of my ancestors)
“How can red be your favorite color when mine is pink?”
“When will the interviewer aunty give me chocolates?” (this was asked even in the middle of an interview)
“Where does Samarjit (friend) live? Where does Nivedita (best friend) stay?” (in response to the question on his place of stay?)
This questioning and cross-questioning went on until I ran out of patience and started yelling at him for his lack of interest in learning anything new. Whenever Tuneer received a scolding from me, he knew that the only way to get even was by getting one of his grandparents involved in this. He had tried the trick by involving his father a couple of times but the results didn’t quite match up to his expectations. So, he located one of his grandfathers (the preferred choice) or his grandmother and started crying on top of his voice. As expected, the grandparent rushed towards their favorite grandchild only to be told that the mother had chided him for not answering her questions right. And then he waited patiently as I received an earful on how raising a child required a lot of tolerance and patience.
We survived the six-month interview duration following a similar pattern. His ever-increasing number of questions drew out the last bit of energy from me. Amidst all these developments, my only concern was about the boy considering it his duty to question the interviewer as well. By then, it had become a part of my daily ritual to convince him about speaking during the interview in an audible voice. I decided to next plead with him about not bombarding the interviewer with his queries in return. He agreed to this deal in exchange for continued replies to some extra questions directed towards me (related to Peppa Pig, the relation between kids and schools, tasty food specially poori and chocolates and my family tree).
I am just glad that the admission process is over now. His areas of interest seem to be making a shift towards his new school, new class teacher, slide projectors, security guards in the school, the colorful pool car and a daily repeat of poori in Tiffin. He seems to be observing all the new developments closely while letting a wave of queries build up in his mind. I have started dreading that day when it starts flowing out in the form of, “Tell me why”. I can see my future reactions to those endless questions in the form of exasperated sighs as I let out “Oh God, why me!” just like my mother did when I followed her around the house relentlessly with my sets of 5Ws and 1H three decades ago.
I hope you had a grin on your face while reading this post just as I kept smiling while writing it. I will be back with my twenty-fourth post on ‘X’ tomorrow. You can catch up on all my previous posts in this series here.