The second-child syndrome

“You said I am gonna get a sister. But it’s a boy. I can see.”

“How long would he be lying on your lap? Tell him it’s my turn now.”

“Ask him to shut up crying. Tell him I have got school tomorrow.”

“Put me to sleep like you do with him. On your lap.”

You think it’s another hapless case of ‘two under two’? Well, you’re not entirely wrong. My elder son who was almost 5 at the time of his brother’s birth, behaved worse than a child under 2. The smart, sensible and slowly-getting-matured boy of mine showed bouts of unreasonable outburst, the moment he casted the first glance on his sibling.

When I got a call from one of my friends, who had given birth to her second child just days before I had, I expected a similar cry for help. But since her first-born is a girl, she had a different story to tell.

“She can’t get enough of holding her brother. She wants to baby sit him already! How’s it with your boys?”

“Oh! They are happy to be together, it seems.” I said, with not much conviction as I eyed the elder one who was sitting in a corner with a grumpy look. (I had just turned down his demand to carry him to school that day.)

Life was ‘oh-so-perfect’ when Parth, my elder son was born. I had come across a lot of families where even after a child, there’s a want for another.  Some yearn for a little princess after a naughty little boy. Others feel the need for a boy to complete the family.

But with us, there was no scope for another. We were a perfect small, happy family. My son was growing up fast and was quickly approaching the age when his immunity could be trusted upon. The harrowing fortnightly visits to the paediatrician, were gradually becoming less frequent events. We were glad for being able to spend more time together as the kid was becoming more independent.

But as fate had it, we were to welcome the next bambino in the family. And with him coming, we couldn’t help notice the chaos that came along. We knew we were going to be neck-deep in mental, physical and financial mess. Still, we jumped in.

To make matters worse, it was a troubled pregnancy. There was no trace of the much-famed pregnancy glow on my face! Acidity, nausea, dark patches, pre-natal depression and to top it all, blogs on pregnancy asking me to ‘celebrate’ the phase made me want to punch right into every smiling face.

No, I didn’t rejoice even a minute of my second pregnancy. I couldn’t wait for my due date, not because I was excited to hold my baby, but because I wanted this phase to get over.

And then came ‘Shivaan’.

Life rewound 5 years.

We found ourselves back in the paediatric ward – Fortnightly vaccines, repeated checkups, rushing in for common cold, diaper rashes, colic and what not.

I had progressed to the tab named ‘school-going’ on parenting websites. The new one’s arrival was all the way back to the ‘newborn’ tab for me.

I changed from a sane, sensible mom to an irate, baffled one, who would snap at everyone (including the kids) at the drop of a hat.

Apple pies, surprise stuffing paranthas, cupcakes and pizzas gave way to quick-cook oatmeal.

Weekly art and craft hours, visits to the park, weekend drives were things of the past. And that turned my perky 5-year old into an impulsive brat who believed his brother is the villain in his life.

For the first six months after my delivery, I reminded myself every 6 minutes- This too shall pass.

Yes, we didn’t plan Shivaan. But as they say,

“if it’s planned, it’s human; if it isn’t, it’s divine”.

Shivaan is now 6 months old. And the family of four looks saner now.

When I see the brothers play, I breathe out.

Now when I see the little imp pulling his brother’s hair who replies with a smile and a cuddle- ‘Shivu, soon, you’ll get your own’, I feel like celebrating!

“Mom, save my worksheets for Shivaan.”

“Another story, please. The more stories you tell, the more I pass on to Shivaan.”

And life is beautiful again.

It’s a divine plan, I am convinced.


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My son’s not a muggle (Yayy!)




I was 15 when I started at Hogwarts and now at 28 I am still under the spell. The best part – I don’t intend to come out of it. Ever.

For a witch married to a muggle, the most delightful day is when her child shows signs of wizardry. Finally, I now have someone who can spot Platform 9-3/4 at ordinary looking railway stations; who dreams of strolling the streets of Hogsmead and the way I feel bad to have born and graduated out of Hogwards before Harry, Ron and Hermione, his only woe in life is to have born years after they graduated.

“Mom, tell me more about the founders of Hogwards. How did Salazar Slytherin figure out where to build the chamber of secrets? ……I thought the Basilisk had green eyes. It would have looked more creepy, no?”

Endless questions and an imagination that soars.. I couldn’t help but smile. No matter how much he asks, I try to keep my stories play a trailer, not the complete movie. I don’t want him to miss the thrill while he pours over the books.

Last night, he was dreaming about his sorting session, it seems. He was murmuring something like ‘Hufflep-l-uff’ ..I kissed him on his cheek.

“Oh not again! I don’t want another multiple personality disorder patient in my house. Not my son!!!” moaned the muggle father.

I shrugged.



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He liked her.
She liked him.
Till they scrolled down.


Ek choti si love story

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“Even a minute of pretension weighs tonnes on your conscience. It’s better to admit being below par than to pretend being superior”
~ Creativwins

“Even a minute …

Bad times and Bed-time stories

What could be more tormenting for an artist than a mind-block that is as stubborn as a pampered 3 year old? Days became months and months became many months, all I could squeeze out of my right brain were unconvincing excuses to convince the dying creative birdie in me. Bad times, really.

And then, there came to my rescue my pampered 3 year old for he is one client who generously allows me revert time of 30 seconds punctuated with non-stop tantrums. However, the creative liberty I get here cannot be compared even with my personal diary entries. I am allowed the world and the space above.

All he wants is a story, he can sleep with.

And then I would tell stories of flying fish and birds that can swim; of babies with tails and tail-less monkeys; of hairy hippos and slimy bears; of a story-loving boy and his story-telling mom.

The reward: big beautiful eyes dancing with excitement, a happy-hug and a good-night’s sleep.

Okay, I know. It’s not a parenting forum where I can get moist-eyed and rant on being mommy. And that’s really not the objective of this post. It is about a very common side-effect of creativity and a very uncommon solution to it. Where there’s creativity, there’s creative block. But what I found amazing was the way my bed-time stories kept my mind rust-free and fresh for the next professional day.  After all it is no less challenging than churning out a creative campaign that’s supposed to adhere to a 50-paged brand guideline.

How dare I compare the regular, outright ordinary task of narrating stories to my son with something that helps me pay his school fee?

Here’s how.

A.      Deadline that’s half a minute away

Son: Ma, story. C’mon, tell me.

Me: Okay baba, let me think.

Son: Don’t think. Tell me a story.

So, according to my son, it doesn’t take thinking to come up with something worth listening. Thinking, as they say, is such a waste of time. May be he isn’t wrong. Even at work, your best shot could be the one that came out spontaneously. With every brush-up, you take it a level down.  And with a time-frame of half a minute, there’s no scope for thinking left. Isn’t it?

B.      The vocabulary allowed is a list of 500 words, max. 

Now, you may have a history of making the CXOs of giant brands open up Merriam-Webster on their iPhones and using words and phrases like folie à deux and idée fixe in casual conversations to your credit and but hey, this job can make you run out of your sea of words. Watch out for that frown on your little one’s face. That’ll remind you the night you had to stay back to re-write the copy that didn’t adhere to the Bible called ‘brand guidelines’.

You might wanna repeat that sentence in a simpler language. C’est la vie!

C.      Dare not try something stale

Repeating a story that falls within the memory span of your little imp is as big a crime as re-proposing last year’s brand campaign to your client and expecting an ovation.

‘Unique’ and ‘Innovative’ are the favorite words here as well.

I ended up telling two stories instead of one when I made that mistake. Phew!

D.      Don’t bore

Wishing to educate and enlighten as you narrate a story is but natural for a mummy. But you need to be as smart as you are while hiding bits of beans and broccoli in his pizzas and cutlets. If the story goes too heavy on morals, you might have to pay with yet another one.

So never underestimate those few moments in the world of fantasies with your kid. There’s a lot to take-away from those little storytelling sessions that may come handy while you prepare yourself for your next client presentation.

Happy Storytelling!

For a cheat-sheet of Bedtime Stories, visit

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Myriad Me



Bright Colors















She looked at those colours

And hoped she could paint someday,

The haze, the mist, and the dew-drops

And the scene of a child at play



Then she came across a prose,

So lyrical, so penetrating

She said, I guess I am in love

And that she would make love to writing


I hope you know, these days love happens

Not once, but over and over again,

It’s okay to move on, but make sure

None of your flings go in vein


For every kiss, not only the first

Leaves an imprint on you,

Makes you rosier, makes you happier

And you meet a ‘better you’


Embrace everything that comes to you

Learn everything that life teaches

For experience is a better teacher

Than those saintly preaches

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That a female life comes with a side-effect…

15 years ago

It was when I was pregnant with my first child when I playfully asked my husband, “we got married after dating for 9 years and our affair had started when we were in school. What if your child does the same?”

I had not mentioned if I am particularising about a son or a daughter.

But pat came the reply, “I would never let my daughter date anyone. I’ll kill that man who touches my daughter.”

I laughed and said, “How mean! And what if it’s a boy?”

He said, “You want me to give a virtuous reply? Or an honest one?”

I chose the latter.

“I would ask him to use condoms.”

It was a girl. Followed by a boy 3 years later.

My daughter was pampered by her father. I can guarantee that her father would actually not spare the guy who would as much as touch her.

All these years he could never say NO to her demands. But today I saw that very father trying to curb the most reasonable demand of hers. Freedom.

That night, a light-hearted discussion we had 15 years ago, popped up once again. Only this time, we had creases of worry on our foreheads.

“Tell her, she is 15 now. And there is a limit to what a girl can and should do beyond this age. Freedom, equal rights for a boy and a girl is all fine. But can we forgo our daughter’s honour and life for them? Once gone, can they come back? Or can these words bring you solace? No late night parties, no short dresses, no booze. And that’s final.”

Saying this, my husband threw today’s newspaper and the front page headlines seem to stress upon the urgency of taking that decision which until now seemed just outrageous to me. Today it looks inevitable.

New Delhi: Brutal gangrape and murder of a minor.

We argued,

Me: Do you want to say I will let our son live his life the way he wants, and tell his sister to shut the hell up and stay inside?

Him: You can shut your son too if you want if it’s about setting an example of equality. But remember, only those who have something worth getting stolen, have to take the pains of keeping the house bolted shut. You can’t make the world change to good in a day, but you can lose all you have in minutes. I don’t have the guts to tell my daughter, Go, have fun, it’s your life, when I know there are barbaric wolves baring fangs to feast upon her at every corner.  So it’s time you think of a stern solution before it’s too late.

Me: Is that a solution?

Him: That’s a resort. The last and the only resort. I can’t afford to lose my kids. Let them think me as their foe. That’s fine.

In a place like India where everyday, everywhere, everyone reminds you of the gender disadvantage (or advantage) you have, the hardest challenge is to raise a boy and a girl together without making them feel that one has an upper-hand in the society over the other.

I have always imparted my lessons to my children through stories. As they seem to absorb them well that way.

A story every night. A lesson every night.

But I guess, my labor of cooking up stories for them has increased now. Because from now on, the girl needs to be taught a different set of virtues. She needs to be taught where to draw a line and what horror she can face if she dares to cross that. But am afraid, she needs to take those morals raw. Without being accompanied with the humor and light-heartedness of a story. Because life for her is not as rosy and fantastic as bedtime stories.

Till now I had taught her how to make friends, how a smile can turn an enemy into an ally, how friendship can make life livable, lovable.

Now I’ll have to teach her how not to trust a friend, especially a male friend, especially after-hours, especially if he offers her a drink, especially when he asks her to drop her home after a late night party. Oh, but late night parties are now not meant for her.

Till now I had taught her that the whole world is a family.

Now I need to teach her how to identify a hostile/desperate touch even if that’s of a family member.

Till now I have taught her not to fight with her brother. Love him come what may.

Now I need to muster the courage of teaching her, that her own brother can show savage signs. Keep a watch.

Worse still, it can even be her father.

That’s the dilemma of raising a girl in a middle class family based in New Delhi, India.

How can I cook-up a story to make my daughter understand that even if her brother parties late, wears what he wants, does he what he likes, she is not entitled to do so, for her own good?

What could possibly be a plot for a story that teaches a girl that she is vulnerable at every step and every nook and corner of the very city she was born in and brought up?

That it is only because luck was by her side all these years that she was not abducted from the very road which took her to school?

That because of some good deeds of the past life, she has managed to escape the fate that hundreds of girls in this city encounter?

That anytime life can decide to show her the harshest, most painful part of a female life?

That a female life comes with a side-effect?

I have no clue, how am I going to tell all that to her. But I have no answer to the question a worried and withered father had just posed.

Can we forgo our daughter’s honour and life for phrases like Freedom, Equal rights for woman?

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A little more..for the little ones

With every new kid born, a generation takes birth. Ask your mother, and she would agree that your son is smarter than you were at any given age, though she used to marvel at your antics (like blinking when she said BOO) and admitted that you are born ‘loaded with brains’.

My kids’ granny who also plays nanny to them throws her hands back in despair and declare- my sons had never made me do as much as raise my voice on them. They would play sitting at a place and I will find them sitting at the same place hours later.
That makes me wonder if there was an age when kids sat at the same place like an immobile rock. I guess, I am not envious.
My son and my niece are just two years apart in age. Both of them did their job of entertaining us and surprising us quite well. They still do.

But here’s an observation.

My niece when asked to sit on the couch quickly climbed the arm-rest and took her seat. Two years later, my son did the same. Only he went a bit further- stepped on the armrest and made his bums rest on the top of the back rest. Both were going to turn one at that stage. Recently, one of our acquaintances visited our place with their 11 months old daughter. Same couch, same place, same given scenario. The girl stepped up the arm rest, climbed the backrest and leaped onto the nearby table finally seating herself there.
Would it be wrong to say that every new generation raises the bar a bit? But are parents ready to match steps?

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My First Lady

My life was like any other life

And so was my wife

So you know now

That I am going to talk about my married life.


Ha! Fooled you. No dear,

It’s neither about my life

Nor about my married life,

But about a day when I saw a change in my wife


Go, have fun! She said,

I know that’s unbelievable for you!

She also added, “Take her for dinner,

Coz I have booked a table for two”


Flabbergasted, yet pleased

I got ready for my date,

She asked me to hurry up,

Today, I shouldn’t be late.


Dressed in the finest of suits from my wardrobe,

I drove to pick my date at the other end of the town

I had called her and asked to wait for me

In my favourite crimson shaded gown


She had abided, she always had,

Even when she was brisk and lively.

Years later, she had still cared

Even though she couldn’t take a single step surely.


How lovely! I complimented

And mind you, I meant every word.

But I must say, she looked prettier

Than the words I had mustered


I took her by her arm,

Carefully, gracefully,

For she was my lady

My first lady, literally.


I had plans to fine dine with her

Thought she would like it that ways,

But she wanted the evening

To be like those good old days


Those days, when she had to hold me

With her love and a cooked-up story

Lest I would run away,

Leaving the unfinished bread and curry


If a 5 year old me insisted

to sit on her cushiony lap

Like an infant, like a baby

She would put me to nap


Relishing those days of yore

We had so much fun with each other

What a date it was, what a time it was

When for the last time I was with my mother.

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Black / White / Coloured

Priya I. Mandal:

Deadly! Just Awesome!

Originally posted on dreamzandclouds:

Hoping one day the world will become a better place to live for all human beings……..

View original


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