The gender of our ghost.


“I am convinced there is a ghost in our house!” Sahana proclaimed as one of our musical Christmas knick knacks on the coffee table started playing Christmas music without any assistance on our part.

We were having dinner. We all stopped chewing and looked at each other. How, on earth did that happen? After a few moments of silence, Sahana also said, “Well, I do believe there are ghosts and one lives in this house. I have felt a presence. And she likes me the least. She has smacked pies out of my hand!”

Ryan, who keeps a baseball bat with him (or a kitchen knife sometimes, much to my chagrin) when he is alone, silently looked at her for a few seconds. He said he too is a believer, his voice filled with awe and a little fear.

Then he looked up at the air on top of my head and pleaded with the ghost, “Well, you are welcome to stay. Just don’t cause us any harm.”

I said I also don’t NOT believe in ghost. There is a possibility that spirits linger but I advised the ghost to remember that only weak seek revenge, strong forgive and smart ignore so either be a strong ghost or a smart ghost but please don’t be a weak ghost and seek revenge on us.

That statement elicited a chorus of “MOM, DO NOT SAY SUCH THINGS TO THE GHOST!!! She might be provoked to harm us. What are you doing?” This outburst was followed by Ryan looking at the air on top my head again and saying, “Please forgive her. She does not know what she says. Hey Sahana, do you know if our parents killed anyone in this house when we were little?”

I happened to address the ghost as “it” which was not acceptable to my children. “Don’t dehumanize her, mom. You will make her angry!” Sahana exclaimed.

“But this ghost is not human. It is former human!” I justified.

“You called her it again”. Stop doing that. She will get offended!”

“So what pronoun should I use? And how do you know it is a she?”

“Ugh, don’t use it!! Use they/them. Keep it non binary. That is the best option. But DO NOT dehumanize the ghost by calling them ‘it’. They may seek revenge.”

“Well, then they will be a weak ghost.” I shrugged.

“MOM!!! Don’t provoke them! What are you doing?”

The deed was done, though. I had provoked them. The Christmas music thing kept on playing at interval throughout the night as I gnashed my teeth at the ghost.

Next morning my husband said, “Jeez, that thing was playing at night. Let’s turn that off!” I did not find a turn off button on it, so I handed it over for him to try.

Sahana and Ryan are convinced it is our non binary ghost playing a prank. Another Christmas prank.

The music continues to play intermittently. Our non binary resident ghost continues with a prank of their own. Time to take the batteries out of that infernal Christmas toy! And if the music still continues, we will call an exorcist. Ghost, you have been warned…..

N’DOI….for ever, D’DOI…never!!!


It was a perfectly sane moment for once. Like a very ‘together’ mother, for once I was focused in kitchen work and the task in hand (chopping cherry tomatoes, I believe). Like a regular, relatively sane seven-year old, Ryan was making his action figure do impossible feats, while softly mumbling heroic things like “CHARGE” and “SOAR” and “TO THE RESCUE” ! The dog, like any other relatively sane lab mix was sniffing around for food and intermittently putting his long snout and wet nose between Ryan and the action figure to find out which exact crisis the rescue hero was currently engaged in. Sahana was in the ‘I am a rock, I am an island’ mode – sporting the ‘hiding in my room, safe within my room/ I touch no one and no one touches me’ attitude.

All of a sudden, the peace was broken with a shout of this word:

‘N’DOI!!!!!!’

I startled, and looked back at my son. The dog stopped in mid yawn, scared. Ryan had taken a ninja stance (or I think he did), one leg up, two arms half spread, fingers doing the rap singer type curl, head tilted at a forty-five degree angle, shouting N’DOI in a deep baritone. I mean, as much of a deep baritone a seven year old can muster.

“What are you saying? Keep it down. Inside voice please!” I reprimanded him, convinced that it is some form of gibberish that is meaningful only in his dream world, where he spends a considerable amount of time. He went back to his game. I went back to my cherry tomatoes, dog went back to his yawn. Sahana stayed in her ‘I am a rock..’ zone.

But N’DOI in deep voice didn’t leave us. It was uttered and often – much to my amazement. The word was now accompanied with a self smack on the head. It was cute the way he puckered up his lips, rounded his eyes and hit his head when he said ‘N’DOI’. I looked on with an indulgent smile, giving him a kiss when he did that, ruffled his hair, told him how cute he was….till I found out what it meant.

At dinner table, I heard a soft rendition of N’DOI again, complete with a soft head smacking. It was such a constant in Ryan’s vocabulary, I wondered what it meant to him.

“What does N’DOI mean darling? Does it have a meaning?” I asked, all smiles.

Ryan didn’t deem the question important enough to answer or maybe, his sister beat him to it. Sahana, in her usual patient, ‘you are so out of touch, mom’ voice explained to me the meaning of N’DOI!

“Mom, n’doi is a sweet way of saying DUH!”

“WHAT??”

The word “duh” is not entertained in our house by either of the parents. We find it demeaning and simply don’t see the need for anyone to be using it.

“You have been saying the word all this time?” I rounded on Ryan, stern.

“NO, I didn’t say the word. I said N’DOI!” He defended himself.

Ugh! But it conveys the same meaning. It is not the word, it is the weight it carries, it is the meaning it conveys. He didn’t get it. Mom said not to use the word duh, he didn’t. He followed the rules. He just used a replacement word to mean the same.

“Mom, N’DOI is not bad. It is not a mean way to tell people they are dumb. It is actually endearing. But watch out for D’DOI. If he says D’DOI, that is mean! That is hurtful way to tell people they are dumb! As long as he is not saying D’DOI, we don’t need to worry!” Sahana pacified me.

I believe, like “What the heck?” “Oh my gosh” “Sugar” and many, many others, DUH has found a replacement.

Ok, FINE! N’DOI – you are excused. But if I ever hear D’DOI – you are grounded…till kingdom come. You have been warned.

More laugh lines for mama over this one.