Whatcha got?


Once upon a time a little boy needed help with homework. He ran to his mom and dad asking questions about math or English or social science. Mom or dad helped him figure out his math problem or his English grammar or told him what they remembered about that particular social science question. Invariably and without fail, the little boy turned to his almost six years older sister and asked, “Sahana, is that correct?”

We laughed. Why do you ask us if you need your sister to validate our answers? I believe he asked us out of habit but his full confidence was in his sister. If sister confirmed that the parents were correct, he would accept our answers.

As the boy and girl grew older, there were conflicts. Both of them grew up with their own views on life, society, media and politics. Both of them are independent thinkers (read stubborn). While they agree on basic values like equal rights, social justice, kindness, empathy, honesty, their means to get there sometimes differ. There are arguments, often heated.

I had the opportunity to watch their interactions during this pandemic in close quarters. While bickering still happens and it still drives me insane, I do get a preview of how they will relate to each other as adults. The girl turned 21 and the boy turned 15. They continue to debate policies and political beliefs with the zeal of their convictions. Debates can be still heated and tempers still flare, yet I often hear, “Ok, I see your point. But….”. Lately, I have witnessed more of sharing and laughing though. Often the laughter is directed at their aging parents, but mostly in a good natured and fun way.

I hear, “Ry, I am making pasta for myself, do you want some?”

Or “Sahana, I made popcorn. I left half a bag for you.”

I hear, “Sahana, I can’t find my phone.” And then, the phone is invariably found by sister accompanied by elaborate eye roll and an indulgent, “You dummy!”

It warms my heart to see they often speak the same language – pop culture language.

I hear, “Hey Ryan, did you watch (insert tik tok star name)?” or “Sahana, you gotta see this.”

A few days ago, I overheard a loud broken teen boy voice shouting from his room to his sister.

“Hey Sahana, I have English homework. You gotta help me.”

“I gotta, huh?” She laughs.

Then he saunters over to her room, slouches on her bed:

“Awright, I have to draw a picture between Victorian society and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Whatcha got?

Sahana, despite being in the middle of her homework, smiles and turns around to help.

They are figuring it out. After years of refereeing conflicts between these two, this mama watches from the side line. A warm feeling of love envelopes her as her two favorite humans in the whole wide world come together in their own unique ways.

Please figure this out for me.


On every Mother’s Day, I get a gift of seeds. When Sahana started this tradition, I was immensely touched by the thought behind it. I am a nurturer, nourishing my saplings so they become big, strong trees. Ryan has kept the tradition alive. This year I received pretty flower seeds, chilli pepper seeds ( since I hail from the land of hot peppers) and a tomato plant.

After careful nurturing and waiting and observing for the better part of summer, the pepper plant has beautiful peppers, the flowers are gorgeous and the tomato plant has plump, green tomatoes. We are all very, very excited because we are not a family of green thumbs. We end up killing our green children. This one time we did not and understandably we all smile widely as we walk by our flowers and our produce.

My resident entrepreneur, however, is at his mercenary best.
“Mom, I have decided to give you a family discount. For you, and only you each tomato is going to cost 75 c and each pepper is going to cost a nickel. For others, tomatoes are a dollar and peppers are 20 c.”

“Wait! What?? How did the produce become yours, might I ask?”

“Well, I weeded and I watered them. So I labored and so the tomatoes and peppers are mine. But I will sell them to you at a discounted price!”

“But they were my gifts! You gave them to me! And I paid you for weeding! You were my employee! You can not claim ownership!!!”

A hot debate ensued. He did not understand my logic. He was illogical to begin with. Finally, I became the mom voice and said, “Forget about it. The tomatoes are mine, the peppers are mine. You, my friend, are mine! So deal with it!”

He has not given up yet. The issue of tomatoes and peppers come up often. Nothing has been harvested. I am expecting a blood bath when I actually pick the vegetable. Stay tuned for the epic war.

Never a dull moment.