"I don't look sweet, do I?" my 14-year-old son asked as we were racing against time to catch the school bus at 7am. Caught off guard, I answered with a question, "Why? What happened?" "Nothing, someone told me that a girl in our maths tuition thinks so," he continued matter-of-factly. I concealed a smile and lied, "No, of course not, how can you be sweet of all the things!" Concern got the better of me and I bumbled on, "These things happen when we're teenagers…but you need to focus on lines and angles in the maths tuition. By the way, what do you think of her?" He looked at me perplexed and said, "Nothing."
While he took the bus to school that morning, I couldn't help taking a flight from the past to the future barely halting in the present. I remembered the morning I held him in my arms for the first time. "He looks like a monkey," I had told my mother, who chided me before saying that I'd grow to love him more than anybody else in my life. I found it sweet as I discovered over the next few days that he'd taken after me.
It was his first check-up after a fortnight of being born and I stood in queue to have him weighed. He wailed as he was placed on the scales. The doctor struggled to get a reading as his pitch grew louder and legs dangled out of the machine. "He's a tall baby," the nurse said, hurriedly depositing him back into my arms. Though I was a novice at handling an infant, the young fellow adapted well. I found that sweet.
I can't forget how he would sit on my lap and gape as I slurped up noodles. It became a game between us as I slurped them faster than he could catch them. A few months down the line, he graduated to his own bowl and what a fine mess he made trying to slurp up the noodles. How sweet!
As he was growing up, I realised he didn't have a sweet tooth. He loved chips, while I preferred chocolates and ice-creams. He would pester me for chips and was quick to make me a partner in crime by offering me the first chip. Over the years, he secretly handed me his share of chocolates, cakes and candies, which I found very sweet.
Now that he's a teenager, he shares his dreams, and sometimes that of his friends, as we take a long walk on Sunday mornings. He pushes me to exercise harder, covers up for me on occasions, keeps me updated with the goings-on in the virtual space and shares my earphones as we fall asleep listening to peppy Bollywood numbers.
Yet, he wants to know if he's sweet!
Like most parents, I believe time has flown faster than I thought it would. Before I know it, he will be spreading his wings to soar like an eagle on a flight destiny has chosen for him, while I'll wait here in the nest holding on to our treasure trove of sweet memories. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is a news editor with Hindustan Times.)