As we race towards the finishing line of the A2Z challenge now, I thought of touching upon a different topic related to the admission frenzy. I have often spoken about my anxiety and stress related to the process in the initial days, especially when Tuneer faced a problem of the language or before his first interview. While Sr. T seemed unfazed on the surface, I am quite sure that I had successfully managed to pass on a bundle of my worries to him. Tuneer was trying to balance his preschool life while riding on the roller coaster wave of admissions. Just before the winter break arrived, all three of us were physically and mentally exhausted beyond the limit (kind of what most of the A2Z participants feel now).
By the time the holidays started, the kid had already faced two interviews and one rejection. We were sure that the only thing that could lift our spirits up was a family holiday. In the X post of my last year’s A2Z challenge, I had written about the way all of Kolkata comes together to celebrate Christmas in a grand way. X’mas, as the city still prefers to call Christmas is about midnight mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, eating cake from Nahoum’s, trying out street food delicacies on Park Street and visiting Bow Barracks on December 25th. We have done all of these for the past two years and it wasn’t meant to be any different this time as well. But a desperate need for a mini break landed us at my in-laws’ house in Berhampore this December end.
For the first couple of days, all we did was sleep. For Tuneer, it was a welcome break from my scoldings and continuous nagging for interview preparation. He ensured to stay away from within the range of my vision at every possible opportunity. Not that I had much of a chance in my three-storeyed traditional marital home. With the size of a house that allowed one to play hide and seek without any fear of discovery for days together and three sets of grandparents willing to be his saviors (the Banerjee family happens to be one of the remaining few joint families in the town), he had found his escape route.
Sr. T and I had often told the boy stories from our childhood. He had heard about picnics that were mostly planned during the period from Christmas to New Year. Now that we had come back to our native in the same season, he wanted to attend a picnic and insisted that it should be the one that served pooris for breakfast. Instead of brushing away his desire for some other time, we thought of discussing it with our friends residing in the town. Though most of our outstation friends were not in a position to return back to their native for a mere couple of days, we decided to execute the plan with those who were available and sold on this idea.
X’mas 2018 was not just about eating cakes or visiting the church adjacent to my Convent school. It was about a group of grown-ups trying to recreate the magic of childhood fun for their own or their friends’ kids. The age of these most important members of the picnic ranged between three to eight years. Their life situations varied from attending interviews to facing term examinations in a couple of weeks’ time. They ate poori-sabji together, played with each other, walked round and round the picnic spot for hours holding each other’s hands and returned home delighted after eating the best ever picnic lunch. My introvert son was probably the happiest to have found a feeling of togetherness with his new Dadas and Didis.
We had an equally eventful celebration on the first day of the new year in Berhampore. The boy spent half of the day jumping around with joy in Barrack square, the same field which saw his father’s misadventures in playing football but a decent tenure in the game of cricket. Tuneer and his cousin brother managed to pull out half of the grass on that field in an attempt to fill our clothes and pockets with grass and mud. The mother in me wanted to stop the child from playing with dirt or run in the sun for such a long duration. But the child in me couldn’t resist but giggle at the recollection of my own childhood debacles.
We had scheduled our return journey to Kolkata on the very next day. The happiness quotient had surpassed any tension related to admissions. While viral infection turned out to be our constant companion for the first quarter, the spirit of survival came from the positive energy drawn from family and friends in December. If we hadn’t decided to pause life and internalize mindfulness at that point, I doubt if I could have ever mustered the courage to write a series on one of the most strenuous phases of my life with a pinch of humor today.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the positive impact of taking a breather in life even during a critical phase like school admissions. I will be back with my second last post in this series on Monday. You can catch up on all the posts in this series here. Have a great weekend.