Married Life

Incredible story of how competition and collaboration helped bring up two kids

What happened when she and he disagreed on how and what their daughter should study?

Madhavi and I have been together for close to three decades. And you know what has been our greatest connect? Our kids, Ankita and Aniket.

The competitive way

When Ankita was growing up, it was Madhavi’s responsibility to teach her. Unfortunately her friend Mayura’s son, Sanjay too was in Ankita’s class. Competition was inevitable. In every sense a doting mamma, with maternal love splashing inside her not so slight frame, like a Tsunami, she turned into a virtual Madame Defarge when it came to exams and results. Ankita had to get more marks than Sanjay or else….

After observing silently for a few exam seasons I decided to intervene. I explained rather patiently to Madhavi that it really did not matter if Ankita scored four and three quarters marks less in maths and stood two ranks behind Sanjay overall. There was no point in terrorising the little one to excel in a competition which was in any case insane.

My prayers didn’t work, but providence did. Mayura and family were transferred. And when we returned from the station after seeing them off, I found Ankita celebrating her ‘release’ with gay abandon.

My counselling luckily worked for Aniket and he was spared the torture of the in-house Martinet’s calisthenics.

Ramendra with whole family

Not Arts, surely!

Years later Ankita notched up 97% in science in her class 10 CBSE exam. Madhavi and everyone in our extended family wanted her to take up engineering or medicine. When I asked Ankita, she said, “Maths makes me want to puke and science gives me a migraine. I want to take up arts.”

I agreed, but Madhavi was livid. “How can you ruin her future? How can you allow her to take up Arts which is for mediocre students? At least let her take up Maths and Science for two years and later decide.”

“I should turn 730 days of her life into a living hell, studying something she loathes, only because you feel you know what is good for her, or because you are concerned about what people would say. Nothing doing, let her study what she wants,” I declared with a rare burst of courage, which God alone knows came from where.

Related reading: Our marriage survived a kid

Madhavi accepted the fact that our child would not be a doctor or an engineer soon enough. And once she did, she was there for Ankita like no one else could.

Before and during the exams she would take leave from work and sit with her. Not much of an ‘Arts’ person, she would patiently sit and listen as Ankita bounced off ideas, hypotheses and ideologies. And when I came home she would collapse in my arms bruised and battered by the scuds of information hurled at her by her angel.

Anyway, two years later, the results were declared. The ma-beti duo’s efforts paid off and Ankita topped the State of Odisha.

All grown up now

Ankita is now a film maker and a backpacker who stays in Bengaluru. A couple of years ago she decided to go on her first solo trip to Vietnam and Indonesia. Everyone in the family, including our lab Aryan, knew, except yours truly.

After Ankita returned to Bengaluru from her month long sojourn, Madhavi informed me.

“How could you do this, Madhu? You should have told me!”

“Are you crazy, Ramen? You remember the first time she went for tuition on her cycle you followed her in the car. When she went with her class on an excursion, you ran down the entire length of the platform, running along with the departing train, shouting instructions and hurling important contact numbers at her. Even now when she rings up at 12.30 at night you jump up imagining the worst. And when she doesn’t, you imagine the worst. Ankita has grown up, when will you start growing up!”

Related reading: From sweet nothings to poop conversations – How fatherhood changed my life!

Madhavi and I have never been on the same para but have tried to be on the same page – at least where Ankita and Aniket are concerned.

Published in Married Life

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