We have all heard of ATM or Automatic Teller Machine Card. I have taken the liberty of creating a new ATM Card – Any Time Memory Card. This card is not plastic, it is for real. It has no value, simply because it is priceless. It has no expiry date and is imperishable. And whether there is a surge or slump in the market this ATM card will always be cherished.
So how is this card crafted? By investing in time and creating a bundle of memories – each a gossamer fabric of fun and togetherness.
For many years, as the kids were growing up, I made deliberate efforts at making memories – to leave behind a legacy of endearing moments for my daughter Ankita and son Aniket. Every year during the first burst of rain we three went out in our garden. There in broad daylight, clad in our shorts, we got totally drenched. As we slid through the slush and mud, singing and dancing to glory, the moments were captured on camera. This unselfconscious, uninhibited and unadulterated madness went on for years.
We also created the concept of ‘Papa’s Day Out’.
My wife Madhavi, who worked in the same Steel Plant as me, would be packed off to the office for the day. After attaining ‘freedom’, the three of us would go berserk.
The entire agenda would be set by the kids. We would dress up in crazy clothes, go to the park or on long drives, eat in seedy places, watch silly movies, sing, dance and do anything and everything which was nutty, wacky and loony.
Whenever I used to go on my literary tours, I would always take either Ankita or Aniket along, provided of course they were free. They would happily attend my storytelling sessions and creative writing workshops. After the event, we would go out and have a blast. This practice was started when the kids were very young.
In fact, the first time Ankita went with me she was just four. Even the coolie asked me, “Sahab, itni chhoti bacchi, maa ke bagair reh legi kya?”
By spending time, I don’t mean merely taking a day off, sitting in front of the TV to watch a cricket match and giving a bunch of sketch pens and a drawing sheet to your ‘precious’ one. And during commercial breaks turning an indulgent eye on her and feeling thrilled that you are the model parent who is spending ‘quality time’ with the child.
By investing time, I don’t mean merely sharing of physical space, I mean attention, involvement and sharing of emotional space.
A few years ago, when the coronavirus was on full rampage, our family of five (including our Labrador Aryan) was closeted together for three months. All four humans were working from home. This was the first time we were together in 12 years and that too confined in four walls – with nowhere to go.
I was wondering, two ‘mature’ adults in their twenties and two ‘puerile’ grownups in their fifties – how would we manage without tearing each other apart? But we did and how! What we indulged in was a simple trick.
We simply encashed our ATM cards and pressed the rewind button. Memories came tumbling out in chunks – games of scrabble with me trying to impress the junta with my vocabulary; bouts of ludo, with no one wanting to pair with me; dumb charades, antakshari…
The magic carpet of memories took us not to unknown lands but to very familiar, very comfortable cocoons which we had not visited for years.
Everyone was fighting Corona by social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. Our family was battling COVID by bridging emotional distances, wearing smiles and tugging at memories.