After a year of doing this..


Setting: Breakfast table on a Friday morning.

Characters: A mom, a dad and a 16 year old son who has decided sullenness is the way to keep nagging mother away from him. His plan has failed.

Action: Mom and dad are discussing the very limited office space area in their very tiny house. The teen is chomping on his breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich, with half closed eyes before starting virtual school. The mother and father are unaware that he is paying any attention to the conversation around him.

The adults are almost at the point of reaching a deal in their office space negotiation. Father has to record a video for work, mother has to conduct a class for the library and they are working out the time when one will have access to office space which is in the basement and who will work upstairs in the living room. They both are very accommodating and mindful of other’s needs so it is mostly an amicable process. Although the mother has figured out if she gives the father a hapless look about a decision unfavorable to her needs, the father will acquiesce. Not very often, but she does use that look to get her way sometimes. Anyway, on this day all is going well. The adults have figured out their work space and timing. Both the parents can conduct their businesses successfully at the allotted time. They are about to leave the kitchen table to get ready for their respective jobs when the grumpy teen speaks up in a mumble, “I have….mumble, mumble, mumble..”

“You, what? Speak up.” The adults turn around.

The parents have found that they constantly ask ‘what’ after any sound that comes out from their son’s mouth these days. Either the sentence is spoken very fast or the sentence is said in a mumble – which comes off as completely incoherent. In order to understand the young man, a follow up (or may be more than one follow up) ‘what did you say?’ is necessary.

Anyway, today’s mumble was translated as “I have orchestra in the 2nd period.” The young man plays cello and the cello resides in the dining room which is right off the living room. During orchestra class, he comes out of his room and plays the cello in the dining room. The second period when the musical soiree is about to happen is in the middle of the mother’s class and father’s video recording. Neither of those events could incorporate cello notes during their occurrence. Time for the hapless look, mom decided and perfectly executed. The dad did some quick thinking and juggled his to-do list so he could finish his video recording before the mother had to start her Zoom class. He is truly a saint.

The mother went to the basement to facilitate her class with one ear out for cello music which she never heard. After her class she came up and enquired why there was no music in the house, what happened to orchestra class. The teen, while munching on his lunch and one ear out of his head phones said they had to listen to some music today which he did in his room. They did not have to play music.

So all the readjustments and renegotiations along with ‘hapless look’ were really for nothing. Such is life. Such is working from home when your home is still not perfect work place after working from home for over a year. What are you gonna do? Just laugh!

If you want to read about our office space situation, here is the blog that I wrote about it.

Where are you from-from?


I answer that question with joy. Too much joy perhaps because my face lights up (or at least I feel my face lights up) when I say I am from India. And when I see a glimmer of recognition or some encouraging words from the questioner, I expound more on my birth country. Sometimes the person asking that question encourages my exuberance and sometimes, s/he gets glassy eyed. I have matured enough to know the signs when to continue and when to stop. This question is not difficult for me. I am a brown woman who speaks English with an accent, who came to this country in her mid twenties, lived here for years and ultimately became a naturalized citizen. There is no doubt of the fact that I am originally from a different country.

But if this question is asked to any other brown skinned person who was born here, that is stereotyping and racial profiling. This is the premise of the book Don’t Ask Me Where I am From by Jennifer De Leon. Liliana Cruz is a 15 year old girl who lives in Boston with her parents and annoying twin brothers. Her mother is from El Salvador and her father is from Guatemala. And although Liliana is a citizen of United States, her parents are both undocumented. Liliana’s family is not rich but they are relatively happy. She is a gifted writer who goes to Boston public school where she has friends who look like her, understand her culture, share similar background. Her seemingly uneventful life, however, is rudely disrupted when her father vanishes one day. Liliana does not know where her father disappeared. All she sees is that her mother is anxious and is trying her best to remain under the radar of authorities and earn as much money as she can. During this turmoil in her life, Liliana finds out that she has qualified under the METCO program to go to a predominantly white school in a suburb of Boston. METCO stands for The Metropolitan Council for Educational opportunities. “METCO is a school integration program that enrolls Boston students in grades K-10 in participating suburban public schools to reduce racial isolation” – according to their website.

Liliana is devastated to leave her old school and friends, but she chooses to go because she knows her papa would be proud of her and would have wanted her to sieze this opportunity. She soon realizes though, that although the initiative of this integration program was a noble one, the ground reality in her new school is completely different. There is another form of segregation where the METCO kids stick together and the rich kids have their own groups. The METCO students try to prove their worth by exceling in sports, academics, extracurricular activities yet they never become part of the main student body. They are different than the rest, inferior somehow because of their skin color, their style, their way of speaking. And then there is that invariable question that they are asked, “Where are you from?” When they answer that they are from Boston, the follow up question almost always is “No, but where are you from-from?” Liliana is of Hispanic origin but she was born in Jamaica Plains, MA, USA. That is where she is from-from! Many Americans like her, who are people of color, are asked this question and Jennifer De Leon makes a powerful point in this book through this story about insensitivity ingrained in that question, especially when posed to people of color. People are here, they are part of the community. Accept them, acknowledge them, respect them, dignify them.

Liliana’s father, we find out along with her, has been deported. Liliana’s world crashes around her as she discovers how vulnerable she is. Her parents could be taken from her anytime by authority and then what would happen to her? Despite the uncertainty and huge unrest in her life, Liliana grows strong, faces her challenges and searches for solution to end racial inequality instead of wallowing in self pity.

De Leon confronts some difficult issues head on. Liliana is a 15 year old girl who speaks in a lingo I am not familiar with and I do not particularly like. I found the narration of the story in Liliana’s voice somewhat detrimental to fully appreciating the story but I am not the target audience of this book. I wonder if young readers will relate to the narration. I recommend this book for the issues and the way Liliana grows in character.

‘Where are you from’ perhaps is a valid question if it comes from a place of honest curiosity to learn about a different country/culture. The follow up question, “No, but where are you from-from?” is the one to avoid.

Teen 2.0


I am attending a training for my work. It, sometimes, is waking me up at night. The work is not difficult, it is simply intense. Yet as I turn on the computer, all I want to do is write blogs. So, instead of working on Young Adult’s readers advisory, I am writing a blog about it.

Me: Sahana, I am going to interview you for one of my classes.

Dying pterodactyl groan accompanied with a word I understand: Why???

Me: Because you are a teen and I need to interview a teen who reads and uses the library. You fit the bill.

Sahana: Yes, but I am not your average teen. I will give you deep answers.

Me: How are you not an average teen? What is an average teen anyway?

Sahana: I am just better than your average teen. I have maturity, common sense and lucid moments. Your average teen does not have those.

Me: Do you think you also suffer from the sin of hubris?

Sahana: Nope, I just say it straight. It is what it is. I am not an average teen. I am Teen 2.0. You know? The upgraded version!

My sweet little teen did not realize how very ‘teenagerish’ she sounded in that entire conversation! I was making marinara sauce in the kitchen for dinner. I did not even feel the burn of an errant spot of hot sauce on my hand, I was chuckling so hard. Silently, of course!

🙂

Off to visit the Mayans – Day 2, Uxmal.


The second day started with Ryan loudly ‘whispering’ to Sean at the crack of dawn, ‘Dad, Dad, I am really, really hungry!!’ And when Ryan is hungry, he is worse than Eric Carle’s ‘The very hungry caterpillar’. We got up and pattered around the room, getting ready for the day. The parents tried to be quiet to let Sahana sleep a while longer while Ryan tried to make as much noise as possible to wake her up! Soon enough, we heard a dying pterodactyl groan from under the covers:

‘It is 6:30 in the morning!! Why are you all walking around?? Why are you even awake? I disown all three of you! Let me sleep!!’

Sahana groaned and moaned while the wicked brother giggled and chuckled. Finally, she got out of bed just to tackle him to the ground for being a pest, got ready and came down to breakfast with us.

After a breakfast of huevos (eggs), beans, cereals, papaya, banana and cafe (for me), we slung our bag packs on our shoulders, went to find our vehicle Escargot and embarked upon our journey to Uxmal – 67 Kms away. And this is the gift we received for our endeavor.

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As Escargot ate up the kilometers on an empty two lane highway, all four of us quietly basked in the beauty of the sun kissed day, the young, verdant green creating a foliage over our heads, the occasional farmer by the road tending to his own farm. The journey took us less than an hour and a half to get to Uxmal, which, in Sean’s opinion was the best of them all. Sean had visited the same area twenty five years ago as a young backpacker.

I got my camera out as we entered the site but the children forgot about the pyramids because they met him……or her. I really can’t be sure.

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We named him/her Sultan/a. The iguana population distracted Ryan and Sahana while I stood in front of this with my mouth open.

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And to put the size in perspective

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The Pyramid of the Soothsayer, also called The pyramid of the Sorcerer.

I think the legend associated with the pyramid is most interesting. An alux (aloosh) is a creature with a body of a baby and the face of an old man born out of egg. The common belief was (probably the folklore still exists) that these were spirits of old gods driven away from temples, taking revenge on non-Yucetecs. The legend, according to ‘Yucatan & Mayan Mexico’ goes something like this:

When the story began, Uxmal was a humble place, with nothing like the grandeur it later attained. It was ruled over by an old King who lived in the fear of prophecy that he would be dethroned by a new lord, a dwarf, and this lord would herald his arrival by beating on a drum. Now, there also lived a woman, a witch, who did not have any children but pined for one. She found an iguana egg, which she brought back home and cared for. Eventually a baby was born out of that egg. The baby could speak as soon as he was born but stopped growing after a year of his birth. He was an alux, the Dwarf. One day he found a drum and started beating. Panicked, the king sent his army to capture the drum beater and be brought to him. The king set the dwarf some seemingly impossible tasks, which the dwarf agreed to do provided the king matched his efforts. The king challenged the dwarf to build a house overnight that had to be higher than any house in Uxmal – which the dwarf accomplished. The Pyramid of the Sorcerer was built overnight thus. Finally, the crucial test was them both hitting each other with giant hammer. The Dwarf’s mother placed a magical tortilla on her son’s head but the king’s head was unprotected and therefore smashed. The Dwarf became the new ruler and the prophecy was fulfilled.

Although Uxmal has several glyph inscriptions and stelae, they have not provided a complete history of the region like Palenque. There is a lot of information on the history of Uxmal and the architecture of the Puuc region but since the blog post is a personal journal, I will steer clear of facts and history. Due to the number of visitors, they do not allow climbing on the Pyramid of the Sorcerer anymore. However, one can still climb the steep steps of the Temple of the Mayor and enjoy the view atop the monument. One can see the sweeping vista of the ruins and the terrain adjoining the ruins. The day we chose to travel to Uxmal, the sky was blinding blue, the sun was sweet and strong and we truly felt at the top of the world as we gazed far out from top of the The Tempelo Mayor.

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Climbing up the Temple of the Mayor.

By the time we explored the big structures, went up and down the Temple of the Mayor, the children were hot and tired. Even the iguanas seemed to lose their capacity to entertain. So we brought them back to the entrance, sat them down in the shade, bought them ice cream, handed them water bottles as well as our backpacks and like any responsible parent, we took off with a reassuring ‘Stay here, we will be right back!’ (Please do not call child services on me, they are older and responsible enough to be left alone 🙂 )! There were a few sections we had not explored and Sean and I are that type of curious people who like to see it all!

Uxmal was magnificent, the day was glorious. It was less touristy and Uxmal had a grandeur that demanded respect and awe. The relative silence of the place let us do just that. We looked up at the monuments in awe and marveled at the ingenuity, depth of astronomical knowledge, artistry and vision of the ancient Mayans.

I turned around and bade farewell to the majestic temples and sites of Uxmal as Escargot got on the road to take us back to Merida. But stomachs were growling at this point and lunch seemed imperative. On the way back, we discovered a thatch roofed (palapas) restaurant, more like the roadside Dhabas in India and we decided to pull in. That turned out to be one of the best decisions we made on this trip. The staff was simply wonderful, very cheerful and proud of their heritage and cuisine. Our server took us back to their garden and showed us the chillies and other vegetables that they grew themselves. And then he showed us the typical regional way of cooking meat – Pibil. They put the meat – chicken, pork, beef with seasoning in a stainless steel container and buried it underground and cooked it for hours. He took out a container while we watched. The meat was so tender it seemed to be falling off the bone. I, of course, ordered that.

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Uxmal, the day, the food, the people – all of these made me so deliriously happy that I wanted to convey to the world and especially to the nice staff of the restaurant how wonderful everything was. The trouble was , I wanted to convey all this in their own language!! The delightful joint thrilled me so much that I unknowingly brought in rudimentary French in my very, very broken Spanish as I tried to bond with our server. I got embarrassed nudges from my daughter as I said ‘moi’ instead of ‘mi’ and ‘tres bien’ instead of ‘muy bien’ .

‘Mama!!! That is French!’ She whispered. Typical teenage embarrassment over parental faux pas.

‘Shush!’ I said, undeterred. ‘Both are romance languages.’

And continued the communication with a lot of smiles, hand gestures and Franish (French/Spanish). The server and I did just fine! While I bonded, Sahana nudged and Sean smiled, Ryan sipped his Coca cola and kept sticking his tongue out saying, “I am drunk!”

The afternoon found me by the poolside writing in my journal, Ryan splashing in the water, Sahana sunbathing and Sean snoozing in the hotel room. The plan in the evening was to explore Merida. After the sun set and the heat lessened we walked around the capital city of Yucatan, Merida. It is a quaint city, with interesting architecture of vibrant hues. Bright pinks, fluorescent yellows, strong greens, deep blues on buildings seemed to work very well in that city. I loved the brick streets, the parks, the beautiful cathedral, the call of the friendly hawkers, “Amigo, almost free!”

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We came back to the hotel after dinner and went straight to bed. Day 3 would take us to Chichen Itza and then southward bound to the beaches of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Akumal.

Sore finger continues to swell, continues to throb, continues to change colors in different shades of unhealthy green. But ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’…

Getting ready.


I am floundering. I am a rudderless, drifting, bewildered ship in a raging, stormy, turbulent sea of teenage. The turbulence is not constant, mind you. There are many, many moments of blue sky, sunshine and gentle breeze. But then, all of a sudden, the storm comes unannounced and leaves me spent, exhausted and very sad.

Some nights, after a particularly exasperating argument over the usage of electronic device or some form of distorted truth that I was told, the sadness in my heart is almost palpable. I don’t recognize this stranger. Yet when I brush the hair off her sleeping face and plant a kiss on her forehead, I fall in love all over again. There is a phrase in Bengali,

Sneha nimnogami. (Love, like water, flows downwards).

Parents feel it. Sneho is indeed nimnogami.

As I watch her sleeping face, I see traces of the five-year old girl, who we uprooted from the land of her birth, India, and planted in the soil of USA.

We moved to this house when Sahana was 5 years old. We gave away all our earthly possessions except our clothes and my books and moved thousands of miles in exactly seven duffel bags. Sahana gave away all her toys to an AIDS hospice and came away with one stuffed toy and some books. When we found this house and camped in due to lack of furniture, little Sahana was left with a very sick mommy, one stuffed toy, some books, a new, unfamiliar house and her imagination. We moved in the summer of 2004 when the obnoxious cicadas were out in full force. Sahana was convinced there was a giant cicada with big, red eyes in the basement of this house. She was afraid to leave my side. I stayed in bed the first few months of my second pregnancy. The simple act of opening my eyes was too much of an effort. I remember Sahana prodding me every fifteen minute or so ‘Mama, are you done sleeping? Can you get up now?’ We were literally joined at the hips.

Slowly but surely the glue that stuck her to me started diluting. I could feel her loosening the grip. These days she is most comfortable in her space, buried in her books, her writing and lately, her device. Life is full of friends, frolic, fear, apprehension, silliness, laughter and yes, some unexplained tears too. Although I understand her need for space, it would be a lie if I say that this aloofness doesn’t bother me at all. It does. I once asked a friend, who was getting ready to send her daughter to college, ‘How does it feel to send your child out into the world?’ She told me, ‘When your time comes to send her on her way, you will be ready. They themselves make you ready for the separation. Don’t worry!’ Can’t say I believed her then. But I believe her now. My daughter is helping me get ready to let go of her hands. As I watch her slowly try out her wings, she writes this letter to me on my birthday:

Dear Maman,

…..so thanks for bearing with us as we learn how to stand on our own two feet. That’s parenting. Once we learn to stand on our own, you can let go of our hands. You can stop chauffeuring, cooking, cleaning and all sorts of housework, and just focus on you and Dad. That is, if either of you have the ability to sit down without napping. Or you still have a house left after both Ryan and my college tuitions! Yikes!
What I said about letting go, Mommy? Don’t. Hold my hand tighter than ever!’

….

Her last line beautifully captures the paradox of teenage. Give me space to grow, don’t crowd me in. I am ready to fly. Yet, hold on to me. Don’t let me fall. The world is exciting, intoxicating, yes. But it is a bit scary too. I need you still.

We are holding on….

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Beginning


The sunlight reflected in her brown eyes and highlighted the gold in her brown hair as she focused intently on the high school coursebook that she held in her hand. She perused the book in front of her, chewing her lip, brows creased in concentration, thinking of her four year course plan. As I glanced at the utter focus on the young face, on the threshold of yet another phase in her young life, my heart constricted with an overwhelming feeling of love for this young person who was just a little bundle in my arms some years ago. I made a mistake as I held her, I blinked! And here we are, at this juncture in life. She is on her way to high school,  deciding upon the courses she wishes to take.

Sahana is going on to high school this year and I am not ready. Just like I wasn’t ready when my fantastic radiologist took a look at the ultrasound report and said, “This baby isn’t growing in the womb, she is not thriving. We need to take her out now. Call your obstetrician. Get admitted tomorrow!” I remember sitting down in the nearby chair, looking up at Sean and saying, “I am not ready!”

Ready or not, she came. Grayish blue eyes, snub nose, pink skin, coconut head, rosebud mouth. She looked up at me with a stern expression as she tried to focus her eyes on this face looming large on her. “Here I am, mother. I am yours for a while. Yours to love, yours to nurture, yours to cherish, yours to discipline, yours to mold, yours to encourage and support. I am yours to help me to be the best I can possibly be!  Are you up to the task, mother? You better be, because I am not going back!”

She, of course, said none of these. She just kept looking at me, or somewhat in my direction with all the loveliness, all the cuteness, all the sweetness that is possible in this entire universe. And I thought of nothing of the responsibility that I held in my hands either. I was happy! No, wait, that doesn’t quite say it. I was ecstatic. I was ecstatic that she was born, I was ecstatic that she was healthy, I was ecstatic that I still lived to watch her grow, I was ecstatic my husband held my hand and helped me breathe through the contractions. When the neonatal unit took Sahana away to administer the necessities, the other doctors took it upon them to sew up my torn body. While they worked on me I thanked everyone who happened to be within my eyesight. Sean reminds me that I supposedly thanked every single person in the delivery room with enthusiasm till I passed out from exhaustion.

There were many firsts, of course. The teething, the first step, the first words, the feel of little soft hand in mine as we both entered her preschool. I don’t remember who had the most trouble letting go of the other’s hand, it probably was me. I sat outside the preschool with other anxious mothers, and tensed every time I heard children cry, convinced that it was mine. I was later told she didn’t cry at all but watched everybody with interest.

We moved to US after her preschool years. She started kindergarten in a new school, in a new country, far away from her familiar world full of friends, neighbors, family. I felt an emptiness in my stomach as the big black and yellow bus swallowed my curly haired little girl to her first day of kindergarten. I was waiting, anxiously, at the bus stop for her when she got off the bus. “How was your first day of school?” I asked, nervous. “It was great! School is the best thing ever! And I think I met an angel!” she replied. She had made friends with another little girl who had blue hair and beautiful blonde hair. Her angel.

At the end of fifth grade, I started panicking again. Two dreaded words – middle school. I had grown up from age 5 to age 18 in one school with the same set of friends. My daughter was going to leave all her friends to go to a different middle school. And I heard stories of the horrors of middle school from friends in this country. Meanness, popularity, need for acceptance, dejection – all these become major factors as children navigate through the confusing corridors of middle school. I read books, I talked about the non importance of popularity, I talked about being herself, focusing on her schoolwork. She was nervous, but I was petrified. Again I watched nervously as she boarded the bus first day to middle school. The reply to ‘how was school’ wasn’t as exuberant as in kindergarten but it was still good. Middle school was a blur. She did well, she seemed happy bar a few occasions. Just recently, on a walk, she confided how difficult the first year in middle school was. How lonely she was. And friendless. Media center was her solace, she escaped there whenever she could and hid behind a book till she started finding like minded children. As the months went by, she became happier. Now middle school was something she was sad to leave behind. She didn’t tell me because I couldn’t help her and she thought she could handle it on her own, in her own terms. I was saddened and heartened to hear this. Sad to realize what she had gone through, happy to hear she learnt to be happy.

A new beginning yet again, another transition –  high school, preparation of adulthood. Although, I am not ready, I do not have a choice. Everyday as my daughter stands a little taller and I stoop just a little tiny bit, as her face glistens with the freshness that only youth can boast and a new tiny wrinkle appears on my face, I see life slowly coming to a full circle. Many people don’t understand this, but I truly revel at every new stage in my life. Middle age is no exception. I have lived my youth, Sahana is starting to live hers. What an exciting time for her and what a simply amazing time for me to watch her bloom.

It is a new beginning for me as well, as a parent. With my first born, every stage of her life has been a new beginning for me. I have often been flustered and confused. Sometimes, the journey hasn’t been fun. I have had embarrassing moments galore but I have also learnt as I went along. I have identified my strengths and weakness. I have focused on my personal growth as a human and as a parent.

As I said, I am not ready yet to let go. I will never be ready to let my beautiful child go. But I have taken the first step. I will learn – to let go of her hands when she is ready. And will watch, yes anxiously, and learn with her as she steps into a new beginning, yet again.

You are weird, I like you!


I wouldn’t dream of generalizing, of course, but can I please say the above lines to all the middle schoolers out there? ‘You are weird, I like you!’

I found this sentence on my thirteen year old daughter’s i Touch welcome page. The conventional me frowned at this and condescendingly shook my head, ‘Kids!’ I patronized.

Weird, in our days, was used mainly as an insult. A brief history of the word ‘weird’, according to Oxford Dictionary is this:

Origin:

Old English wyrd ‘destiny’, of Germanic origin. The adjective (late Middle English) originally meant ‘having the power to control destiny’, and was used especially in the Weird Sisters, originally referring to the Fates, later the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth; the latter use gave rise to the sense ‘unearthly’.

The ever evolving language had changed the meaning to the ones we know now – bizarre, odd, something preternatural or supernatural. The teenagers seem to have embraced the original meaning of the word, and are bowing to this power to control fate. They are slowly emerging from the cocoon of their innocent childhood and looking at the huge world around them with a fresh pair of eyes and newly formed sense of self. They are trying to make sense of the chaotic world in their own terms. According to them, the possibilities are endless, they are in charge of their destiny. They are slowly letting go of their parents’ fingers as they test the waters, push the envelope. They believe they have the power to control their fate, they are weird and they like it. At this junction of my life, when I am mostly tired and wilting, I look up to them to draw energy. They are my sunshine, so bright and radiant. I celebrate this age along with the poet Sukanto Bhattacharya

এ বয়স জেনো ভীরু, কাপুরুষ নয়
পথ চলতে এ বয়স যায় না থেমে,
এ বয়সে তাই নেই কোনো সংশয়–
এ দেশের বুকে আঠারো আসুক নেমে।।

E boyesh jeno bhiru, kapurush noy
Poth cholte e boyesh jaye na theme,
E boyeshe tai nei kono shongshoy-
E desher buke atharo ashuk neme.

Unfortunately, I am no translator but the gist of the lines is this:

This age is not one of cowardice,
This age is unstoppable in its pursuit of its dream
This age has no doubt or fear
Let this age bless our country.

Often times, when the children were young, they would pass a judgment on a peer ‘Mom, so and so is so weird’ only to be reprimanded by me, ‘nobody is weird, people can be different and that makes the world so much more exciting.’ The word ‘weird’ was not entertained in our household, precisely because the mother and the father grew up disliking the meaning of the word. It stood against our value of celebrating our differences. It reeked of segregation, disrespect.

But language is called fluid for a reason. My daughter likes someone who is weird. What does the word mean to her? Weird is someone who is non conformist, who thinks outside the box, who pushes the boundaries without hurting others. Weird is the new word for visionary. At this age, teenagers form a band – the band of the misunderstood, the victims of their parent’s persecution and unfair curfews. They break free from what the parents think is normal. Normal is so relative, I am reminded often. Being weird is a good thing, I learn and accept.

I like this weird generation a lot. Yes, despite the eyerolls, the grunts, the exasperated sighs, the trance like state when they are busy communicating virtually, I simply love them. I love the excess of emotions, both tears and laughter, (and yes, there are frustrations sometimes). I love the positivism, the self-reliance, the emerging independence. I love their view of their world. I love their new-found ability to peel off the surface and look beneath for deeper meaning of life, of world. They are vulnerable still, they are still malleable, to some extent, but not for long. They are a work in progress still, but inching closer towards completion.

The poet who I turn to again and again to find a way to express my emotions, Rabindranath Tagore, celebrates the youth with these words; and he too uses the word adbhut, a Bangla word that can be loosely translated to…..wierd!

Amra nutan jouben er i dut
Amra chonchol, amra adbhut.

We are the messenger of New age
We are restless, we are strange;
We are the messenger of Youth.

Strange denoting different. Different is good, different should be revered, celebrated. Isn’t that what we teach our children as well?