“Will you take care of the kids today?” It was 7.30 in the morning. Being a pushover and to maintain a good image in front of my relatives, the thought to say NO did not even occur. I ended up saying yes within the blink of an eye. I would in retrospect, realize that the following events are what have shaped my thought process. I would choose not to stay with a kid in the same room for the next few years.
As a teacher, my aunt’s schedule was packed. Being in transit from college to home for vacations, I had decided to spend two days at my paternal uncle’s home. He had already left for the airbase to begin his shift while the school bus to pick up my aunt had arrived. The two children apparently had fever and they had taken leave from their school. She left us some money for emergency purposes and told me that the food was prepared, it only needed to be heated before consumption. Once all the instructions were handed to me and the servants respectively, she boarded her bus. Unbeknownst to me, this would begin the 10 hour “childcare” hell for me.
The elder child, Ansh got out of bed at 9 a.m. Aged 12, he was soon to be a teen and was a budding gamer. This would be a very first for me to take care of someone other than my younger brother. The authority was difficult to keep in check. He checked up with Sarita bai, the house-help, regarding the preparation of breakfast and invited me to partake in the omelets and toast. What a feast! My mind screamed with joy. In the college mess, omelets were a rarity as they only served vegetarian meals. While having awkward chats during the meal, I realized that we knew very little of each other since we had never met prior to this. Playing along with a kid was not bad, was what I thought.
After our meal, Ansh went to freshen up. Left alone I decided to indulge in some Shakespeare. One of the plays, Macbeth was recommended to me by my English teacher; there would not be a better time to indulge in this.
I could hear the sweet temptation in my ear, ‘O Brave One, thou hast suffered long, and hath travelled so forlorn for the sweet nectar of literature. Presented ‘ere is a chance to satiate thyself. Pray tell, will thou turn thy back ‘gainst this opportunity? Will thy tryst with the holy literature be hindered due to the ramblings of these young ‘uns? Blasphemy shalt befall you if it such happens.”
I would not dare. I began to read the play leisurely so,with no one to stop me from the one worldly pleasure of life that it was worth. Until the little “demi-demon”; Anu decided to wake up. As a 10-year-old, she was not completely independent, hence the maidservant helped her get ready. Then the clock struck twelve and began the hours of interruptions by the two. Ansh would peek at me from time to time but with Anu deciding to now come sit with me and wanting me to recite stories to her, he took the advantage of seeking my absentminded permission to play on my laptop. He began to play Blur while Anu kept me from reading the blissful text.
Lunch came and went by. How and when, this one does not know. Shakespeare stood there, so close, yet so far away. Too much noise, too much playing. I learnt the word rambunctious soon, and the only thing I could think of was this chaos in my head. What had been a good plan, spending time leisurely reading, had turned into a pointless and irritating afternoon. Keeping up with their energy was not easy, my laptop was not able to do so and soon switched off. So, how does the cosmos think I can? No moment was joyous, only playing with kids, answering stupid questions, and the being harassed by the laddering of whys (I now know the concept thanks to Marketing Management). Ugh… Exhausting.
Evening came and I thought they will have fun with their friends now. Alas! They had found a toy which complied with their demands, in the form of “ME.”
Right now, I realize even when ill, kids will still outrank us in energy. They may sleep more and look all cute, but the fact that they kept a bibliophile like me away from the love of my life, heresy. They will know my wrath, someday. Not really, but I will never babysit ever again if it hampers my reading. I have learnt my lesson.
Lakshaya Ranjan Srivastava
Batch of 2020-22