4th April 2016
Toyna and me sat down with the pile of new books, fresh out of the covers, proudly handed over by the school. I pulled out the stack of covering paper, tape and scissors and started the covering process. Lay the book in the middle of the paper, fold the sides, tape the sides, fold the top corners, tape the top corners, fold the bottom corners, tape the bottom corners, one done. Next book. Lay the book in the middle…
Toyna took the covered book, wrote her name on it and scanned the contents, while I busied myself with the next book. Having covered school books for the last eight years, this was an extremely automated and mechanical activity for me, by now. As the book turned around in my hands, my mind wandered to the beginning of school years for Toyna. Both Toyna and I used to so excited at the beginning of each new year. New books, new bag, even new tiffin boxes, water bottles, et all. We used to go all out in preparing for the new year. Eight years on, I cannot wait to get over with these preparations. Just two days ago, I covered books for the three old Yog, wondering all along, how the school planned to finish these 20 books in the span of one year of Lower Kindergarten. Toyna seemed to have just about the double number of books than Yog. It was going to be a long evening of wrapping and labeling.
Yogwas busy coloring (or rather spattering) his coloring book in the background. For the first few peaceful minutes he ignored Toyna, Me and our big pile of books. But slowly, his attention diverted to, what the two most important girls in his life, were doing. Yog, is the boy who leads his life on simple rules. He has rules for eating, sleeping, bathing and going to school. Most important rule in his life is “If it is important enough to done by Toyna, it is important enough to be done by Yog.”
He pushed away his colors and rushed to my side of the table to take hold of the scissors. He picked up Toynas Maths book and cut page number 151 and 153. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. I scowled at Yog and snatched the scissors from his grasp. He screamed in frustration. By now, Toyna realized that something was wrong. Tears welled her eyes and she rushed to lash out at Yog. I had to step in to control Toyna from hitting Yog and ended up scolding Toyna. While my attention was at Toyna, Yog sneaked behind me and stuck the roll of opened tape on top of two books, sealing them together. Arghhhh! I was now furious at myself and all I wanted to do was give two tight ones to Yog for all his help.
Wait a minute! Isn’t that what Yog really wanted to do? He wanted to be part of the process that both Toyna and me were involved in. Maybe he was just trying to help. To test this hypothesis, I assigned roles for Toyna, Yog and myself in the covering process. I was supposed to cover the book. Yog was supposed to cut the tape and give it to me. And Toyna was supposed to label the book.
Yog, sat on top of a stool, feeling important and worthy of being handed a powerful responsibility. The first tape he handed to me was too long. I calmly explained to him that we wanted shorter tapes, so the next one, as expected, was too short. The third one was just right in size but it was all folded up, not really in a position we could use it. We didn’t lose hope and kept trying to perfect the tape cutting process. If nothing else, it was keeping him busy and distracted enough for us to finish our chores. Over the next 10 minutes, he figured how to cut decent sized tapes and hand them to me before they became all crumpled up.
With that, I realized, it was now faster and easier for me to cover the books as someone was readily handing me the cut pieces of tape (with pride written all over his face). I couldn’t help but smile at my foolishness of ignoring the signs that little Yog had been giving for these past few weeks. All he wanted to say was that he was ready to help. We finished the job of covering the books, each one of us playing our roles immaculately.
Since that day, whenever Yog insists on being a part of our chores, I welcome him gladly. We assign him one small responsibility and he is immensely happy contributing. Among the many small tasks he has mastered, include
- Washing vegetables, rice and pulses (or any other task related with water).
- Handing me clothes from the bucket, as I spread them out on the washing line.
- Loading the washing machine
- Fetching water from the kitchen for Guests and returning the used glasses to the kitchen
I guess it makes him feel important and big to be involved in something that only elders were allowed to do till now.
Life is much easier, not to mention peaceful, now that we are involving him rather than putting up defenses around us to keep him out. Needless to say, we are all happier and relaxed knowing that we don’t need to be scared, when Yog is around.